Wolf administration provides guidelines to reopen PA schools

Pennsylvania

Guidance of school sports remains the same

Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, Friday, July 10, 2020, in Zelienople, Pa. Pennsylvania schools are working on how they will safely transport students this fall, but one idea that won’t be part of the plan is to install plastic barriers around school bus drivers. The state Transportation Department rejected that idea recently, saying there wasn’t evidence it’ll make anyone safer. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) —The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education announced updated guidelines for schools Pre-K through 12 as they prepare to reopen.

Each school entity will determine if classes resume in person at school buildings, remotely or a combination of both options.

“Our goal is to ensure a safe return to school for students, educators and staff by following best practices to mitigate the spread of the virus, including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “In those instances when someone tests positive, public health staff from the department will immediately assist the school with risk assessment, isolation and quarantine recommendations, and other infection control recommendations.”

The best practice recommendations for schools include:

  • Masks must be worn by students and staff at school and on the bus as required by the order signed by Sec. of Health Dr. Levine on July 1, with some exceptions. Masks can be removed to eat or drink.
  • Students or caregivers should do a daily symptom screening before leaving for school.
  • Students, teachers and other staff are strongly encouraged to follow social distancing throughout the day with 6 feet of separation between desks and other seating.
  • If possible, hold classes in gyms, auditoriums, other large spaces or outdoors, where physical distancing can be maintained. 
  • Student seating should be facing in the same direction.
  • Limit student interactions by staggering class times, creating one-way walking patterns in hallways, and, when feasible, keeping students in a classroom and rotating teachers instead.
  • For breakfast and lunch, consider serving individually packaged meals in classrooms and avoid across-the-table seating.  If meals are served in a cafeteria, sit students at least 6 feet apart.
  • Limit the number of students on playgrounds at one time and encourage social distancing.
  • Encourage the use of virtual gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities.

Guidance of school sports remains the same. Coaches, athletes and spectators must wear masks unless they can maintain a six-foot distance. Athletes can remove masks during workouts or competition.

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