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COVID-19/Coronavirus Information and Resources for Members

Breaking News and Updates

March 3, 2021: Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania will dedicate 94,600 doses of the recently approved Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as part of a special program only available for school staff members. PSEA has launched www.psea.org/covid19vaccine to help inform members of this important news. 

February 11, 2021: PSEA President Rich Askey joined with leaders of every major education association in Pennsylvania to urge the Wolf administration to prioritize the COVID-19 vaccine for school staff members. Check out the press release and letter.

December 11, 2020: PSEA President Rich Askey sends a letter to the secretaries of Education and Health, urging them to take immediate action to clarify two elements of the state guidance for school entities related to recommendations following identification of cases of COVID-19 in a school setting.

December 10, 2020: PSEA releases a new Legal Alert on school entities’ compliance with state COVID-19 guidelines and encourages members to notify PSEA about school entities that are
not complying with state guidelines using a new web form.

November 11, 2020: PSEA President Rich Askey releases statement on mounting cases of COVID-19 and what it means for PA schools.

September 1, 2020: The Department of Education has issued guidance related to when and for how long schools should close when students or staff members contract COVID-19.

In the time of COVID-19: An advocacy timeline

Since the pandemic began, PSEA has worked tirelessly on your behalf at the local, state, and national levels. See a chronological snapshot at many of the things we've done since the pandemic reached Pennsylvania in March.  

Keeping Connected E-newsletter

Inside this issue:

  • PSEA continues to advocate for standardized testing waivers despite setback
  • House passes Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill
  • Want to earn a majorly discounted college credit from Edinboro University?
  • Share your ideas for Black History Month instruction
  • PSEA’s Center for Professional Learning schedule
  • Member Benefits spotlight: Voluntary Vision plan

County designations for school reopening

On August 10, Gov. Wolf outlined new statewide guidance aimed at helping schools decide whether it is safe to reopen for in-person instruction.

The guidance places each Pennsylvania county in one of three tiers, based on the county’s COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population or its infection rate percentage. Depending on what tier a county is in, the guidance provides recommendations about whether public schools should open for in-person instruction, adopt hybrid plans, or offer remote-only learning.

These designations are updated weekly. The latest county designations are shown in the map below.

In addition, the Department of Education has issued guidance related to when and for how long schools should close when students or staff members contract COVID-19.

School entity compliance with state guidelines

School entities in counties with “substantial” levels of COVID-19 transmission must attest to complying with state guidelines related to face coverings and responses to COVID-19 cases in their buildings in order to continue offering any in-person instruction.

Learn More – Attestation

Learn More – Face Coverings:

Learn More – School Closures

Legal Alert: School Entity COVID-19 Attestations and Documentation of Non-Compliance

If you believe that your school entity is not complying with these state requirements, feel free to let PSEA know about it. Complete the form at the link below and we will share the information with the state Department of Education.

How are schools reopening?

PSEA is keeping track of how schools are reopening. Reviewing websites for Pennsylvania’s 499 school districts, we’ve identified whether a school district is teaching students virtually, with a hybrid model, or in-person. This is the best data available, and no one else is collecting it on a statewide basis. The data is also very fluid, since some school districts are changing their methods of instruction when they identify cases of COVID-19 among their students and staff members. Some school districts may have changed their instructional approaches since this data was collected.

Below is a “living map,” and it will be updated periodically. If you have more updated information about any school district, feel free to share it at schoolmapupdates@psea.org.

In-Person: an open model for all students and staff five days a week with some students/families opting for distance learning out of personal safety/health concerns

Hybrid: a blended model that balances in-person learning and remote learning for all students, (for example, alternating days or weeks), or a scaffolded model where some students are engaged in in-person learning while others are distance learning (for example, some grade levels in-person while other grade levels are remote learning)

Virtual: total remote learning for all students (includes future actions/steps to be implemented and conditions that would prompt the decision as to when schools will open for in-person learning)

School Instructional Model

Have a question about the COVID-19 emergency?

Professional Development

Educators Growing Together Series

Educators Growing Together is designed to bring groups of PSEA members together to share ideas and respond to one another’s questions about specific challenges related to our new teaching and learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The forums reflect a belief that the most effective way for PSEA members to cope with these new and sudden professional demands is together and the best source of information for problem-solving is each other.

All participants will receive two hours of Act 48 for submitting written responses to and attending one online discussion with PSEA colleagues.

Legislative Updates

Take action to increase federal funding for education

📄 Report: Pa. Schools Could See $1 Billion Revenue Loss

You know how the COVID-19 emergency has impacted our schools and our students. And you have done an incredible job meeting our students’ needs while our schools have been closed.

Now, we need to make sure that, when our schools open again, we can do it in a way that keeps everyone in them safe and healthy and ensures that our jobs, our salaries, and our pensions are protected from budget cuts.

💻📲Contact your U.S. senator and today and urge them to support $175 billion in emergency federal aid for public education.

Why is this important?

  • School districts project they could lose as much as $1 billion in revenue because of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 emergency.
  • The state projects that it could lose as much as $3.7 billion in revenue because of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Because of state and school district balanced budget and tax increase limits, there is little they can do to provide the resources schools need to open safely and avoid furloughs and program cuts.
  • If school districts don’t have the resources they need, it could result in 40,000 furloughs, cuts to music, art, sports, and libraries, and increases in class sizes.

We need federal help
The federal government is the only place we can turn for help. In the past few months, Congress has approved more than $2 trillion in assistance for working people, businesses, and health care providers. Now, we need to tell our federal representatives that their public schools need urgent assistance.

YOU CAN HELP - 📧 Speak out today! 📣
Our jobs, our salaries, our pensions, and the health and safety of everyone who learns and works in public schools is at stake.  Contact your U.S. senator today 👇 and urge them to support $175 billion in emergency federal aid for public education.

Joint Letter on prioritizing providing the COVID-19 vaccine to Pennsylvania’s educators, support staff, and school administrators

“The best way to reduce health risks in schools and reduce reliance on social distancing guidelines is to vaccinate school staff members as soon as possible.”

The association leaders added that prioritizing the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to school staff will help Pennsylvania schools to open for in-person instruction and make it safer to bring more students back to their classrooms.

“Across Pennsylvania, we know school staff members are anxious about being in close contact with others for 7 hours a day. We also know that many parents want to get their children back into school so that they don’t miss the in-person instruction that every student deserves. Of course, everyone is hoping to return to normal operations when the 2021-22 school year begins.

“By prioritizing providing the COVID-19 vaccine to school staff members, we can address all of these issues and we can do it quickly. This will offer a new level of safety and confidence for staff members, students, and their families, and help speed the safe reopening of all of Pennsylvania’s schools for in-person instruction.”

Joint Letter on Student Assessments

Given the tremendous challenges of this pandemic, PSEA believes that it is more important for educators and students to focus on teaching and learning rather than on high-stakes standardized testing.

That's why we joined other Pennsylvania education groups to send a letter to President Biden and his Education Secretary-designee Miguel Cardona. We are respectfully requesting that the U.S. Department of Education offer states a waiver to standardized testing requirements for the 2020-2021 school year.

PSEA President urges Departments of Education and Health to enforce COVID-19 guidelines in schools

On Jan. 13, 2020, PSEA President Rich Askey sent a letter to the secretaries of Education and Health, urging them to take action in enforcing state COVID-19 guidelines for school entities.  

"I am very concerned about recent changes to Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 guidance for school entities in the commonwealth, which would allow additional students to return to in-person instruction before students, school staff, and their families can have confidence that existing state guidelines are being properly followed."

"Now is the time to exercise the most extreme caution and compliance, so that we can beat
this virus and get our schools back open for in-person instruction once and for all. We
can’t do this without clear state leadership and a focus on ensuring that every school
entity is following state health and safety guidance to the letter."

"I encourage you, in the strongest possible terms, to take these steps and take them
immediately."

PSEA President urges Departments of Education and Health to address issues in school COVID-19 guidelines

On Dec. 11, 2020, PSEA President Rich Askey sent a letter to the secretaries of Education and Health, urging them to take immediate action to clarify two elements of the state guidance for school entities related to recommendations following identification of cases of COVID-19 in a school setting.  

“PSEA members want to teach and serve Pennsylvania’s students. And, during this unprecedented pandemic, they have gone above and beyond in order to provide students the best possible instruction. However, reducing health risks for educators, support professionals, students, and their families must always be our top priority. 

“That is why it is so critically important that every school entity follows state guidance to the letter, without exception. And that is why it is essential that the state guidance be absolutely clear and unambiguous. 

“I am calling on you to take immediate action to clarify these issues and ensure that all school entities are following state guidance to the letter.”

Gov. Wolf offers new reopening guidance metrics

Gov. Tom Wolf today outlined new statewide guidance aimed at helping schools decide whether it is safe to reopen for in-person instruction.

The guidance places each Pennsylvania county in one of three tiers, based on the county’s COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population or its infection rate percentage. Depending on what tier a county is assigned, the guidance provides recommendations about whether public schools should open for in-person instruction, adopt hybrid plans, or offer remote learning only.

Low – Full In-Person Instruction: Schools in counties with under 10 cases per 100,000 and with an infection positivity rate of under 5 percent can have full in-person instruction.

Moderate – Blended Learning Model or Full Remote Learning: Schools in counties with between 10 and 100 cases per 100,000 or with an infection positivity rate of between 5 percent and 9.9 percent should provide blended learning or full remote learning only.

Substantial – Full Remote Learning Only: Schools in counties with more than 100 cases per 100,000 or with an infection positivity rate of 10 percent or over should offer full remote learning only.

Case and infection rate information used to determine which tier a county is assigned will be updated weekly. According to the guidance, school entities should deliver instruction as described in the tier into which their county falls for at least two weeks. Any county with fewer than 10 cases is excluded from the new guidance.

These new reopening measures are guidance for our schools, and PSEA will strongly encourage all schools in Pennsylvania to follow it. Doing that will ensure that Pennsylvania’s students, staff, and families stay safe; that we slow the spread of the virus; and that we know schools will be safe places to learn and work when the virus is under control.

We’re grateful for the governor’s leadership and appreciate his commitment to keeping Pennsylvania’s students, educators, support professionals, and their families safe. His announcement today provides a clear pathway for school leaders who are struggling to decide whether it’s safe to reopen schools for in-person instruction.

Stay tuned for more information as this develops. PSEA will continue to push the state to produce the clearest possible guidance.

PSEA president testifies on school reopening guidance

"As communities throughout Pennsylvania prepare to return to school in whatever form, the challenges are many and the answers are few. Reopening will look different in each school entity – that is the reality of a “local control” state. “Local control” should not, however, mean the absence of statewide consistency and clear expectations for certain protocols and strategies that have proven most effective for mitigating COVID-19 transmission in our schools. A failure to consistently apply mitigation strategies will result in needlessly exposing students, staff, and their families to a deadly virus with no cure."

U.S. Senate still working on next COVID-19 bill

We were expecting members of the U.S. Senate to unveil their next round of COVID-19 aid legislation this week, but Senate leaders decided that they need more time to finish the bill. Now, it’s likely to be introduced next week.

But our message remains the same. The nation’s K-12 schools and colleges and universities need $175 billion in emergency federal aid to ensure that they have the resources to reduce health risks to students and staff.

This week, PSEA joined seven other associations representing school boards, administrators, principals, and others to send a letter to Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators, encouraging them to support a bill that includes $175 billion in this emergency aid. Read the letter. 

Add your name to thousands of educators who have sent emails to the U.S. Senate about this.

PSEA president urges governor to begin planning for online instruction in schools

"In public education, planning is essential. And our schools need to begin that planning now.

"That’s why I sent Gov. Wolf and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera a letter today, encouraging them to direct schools to start planning for what online-only instruction will look like if we need to go that route. "

PSEA President urges Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to support public education funding legislation

COVID-19 Bill includes evaluation reform plan

The COVID-19 emergency bill that the General Assembly approved on March 25 also includes the evaluation reform plan PSEA has been working with lawmakers to pass for the past nine months.

The reform plan will overhaul the current educator evaluation system, significantly reducing the impact of student performance, including standardized tests, in favor of classroom observation and practice. 

It will: 

  • Reduce the impact of standardized tests and student performance components
  • Increase the focus on classroom observation and practice
  • Recognize the impact of student poverty on student performance
  • Encourage greater collaboration

NEA and PSEA Education Resources

Legal Alert on school entities’ compliance

In Brief: Classroom Hygiene

In Brief: Classroom Arrangement

Q&A: COVID-19 and the Reopening of Schools

ADA Legal Alert

FERPA and Online Learning Legal Alert

State Education Associations Release “Pennsylvania School Reopening Task Force Report”

Advisory: PA Department of Education Issues Preliminary Guidance for Phased Reopening of Pre-K to 12 Schools

Advisory: Pennsylvania Issues Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

In Brief: Strategies to Increase Student Comfort with Face Coverings in School

PA Department of Education Releases “Considerations for Reopening Pennsylvania Schools”

Take action to make sure schools are safe to reopen in the fall

PSEA LEGAL ALERT: FBI Background Check Extension

CARES Act Update

Online Learning Considerations

Special Education FAQ during COVID-19 Closures

Act 13 COVID-19 Law FAQ

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Student Loan Provisions Summary & FAQ

Summary of School Meals, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Security Measures

CARES Act: One-Time Payments Questions & Answers

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Education Stabilization Fund Summary & FAQ

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Unemployment Compensation Provisions Summary & FAQ

CARES Act Summary: Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Gov. Wolf Announces Additional School Closures/Cancellation of All State Standardized Tests for 2019-20

Tools and Resources for K-12 Online Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Provision of Special Education Services during COVID-19 School Closures

Teaching with Technology during COVID-19: Best Practices to Take Care of Ourselves and Our Students

Impact of Covid-19 on Local Governance Meetings

ESSA waivers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Evaluation FAQ

Implementing ESSA during the 2019-20 COVID-19 Pandemic

CARES Act: ESSA Waivers Questions & Answers

Contact your UniServ

Should you have any questions regarding information or directives from your district, or any concerns about the consequences of your decision to stay home as a result of following the COVID-19 guidance, please contact your UniServ representative.

Member Stories: Educators and support professionals step up to help during COVID-19 emergency

PSEA members across the state are helping their students and communities, even as schools are closed during the COVID-19 emergency.

We want to know your story. What are you doing to help your students and your community?

Associated Press: PA school leaders say they need more specifics from state on reopening guidance.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Philly public schools will stay all-online at least until November

Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. recommends 6-foot distancing all day in schools; teachers union calls for districts to plan for online-only learning

PennLive: Pa. teachers union urges Gov. Wolf to require schools have an online option in re-opening plans

Allentown Morning Call: Pennsylvania releases recommendations for how schools should reopen

Scranton Times-Tribune: Pennsylvania issues guidelines for reopening schools

PennLive: Preparing for best and worst: Before reopening, Pa. schools must develop safety plans to deal with COVID-19

Times Leader: Honk if you miss your students: Kistler teachers hold auto parade

WGAL: Dallastown Area Middle School teachers manufacture face shields for health care workers

PA Cap-Star: Pa. teachers are still teaching, and our students are still learning | Opinion

PennLive: In praise of Pennsylvania Educators | Opinion

Courier Express: Punxsutawney Teachers distribute 600 meals and hygiene products

Keystone News: Teachers Get High Marks from Parents

Explore Venango: [Report] PA Schools Could See $1 Billion Revenue Loss

The Citizens Voice: Lunch distributions going well, school officials say

Erie Times-News: Erie teachers, staff raise $10,000 for Second Harvest

The Tribune-Democrat: Schools receive waivers to provide meals to students across district boundaries

The Standard-Speaker: More meals coming to students

PCN TV: PSEA President Rich Askey discusses teaching during a pandemic

Wyoming County Press Examiner: Elk Lake making music online

The Morning Call: Bethlehem kids become pen pals with their teacher during coronavirus break

GoErie: ‘A big adjustment’ as remote classes take hold in Erie

PA Capital-Star Op-Ed: Wherever educators are, we’re there for our students

The Daily Item: State giving schools leeway in determining who graduates from closed schools

Bucks County Courier Times: Bucks IU printing face masks during coronavirus school closure

PennLive:Pa. school districts jump into remote learning: ‘This is not a normal situation for anybody’

TribLive: Canceled standardized tests should have no long-term ramifications, locals say

Bucks County Courier Times: Learning continues for career and technical students in Bucks County

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Adapting to coronavirus: The ‘second first day of school’

PennLive: Pa. schools offered resources to educate students and ‘position us to successfully return for the next school year’

Erie Times-News: Erie County schools quicken shift to online classes

PennLive: Harrisburg teachers organize ‘Watch and Wave’ parade to show students they miss them

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pennsylvania Secretary of Education says on time graduation for high school seniors a priority

Allentown Morning Call: Pennsylvania Education Department ‘strongly encouraging’ districts to continue teaching during coronavirus closures

Lancaster Online: 'I really miss them': Teachers parade through Hempfield to see students while practicing social distancing

Lehighton Times-News: Jim Thorpe elementary teachers hold parade for students

PennLive: Pa. school districts prepare for possibility of students not returning to classrooms

York Dispatch: AP exams not canceled, will be available online

PennLive: With Pa. schools closed until April (at least), educators face test of serving students remotely

Lancaster Online: Lancaster's school districts step up to meet students' needs amid crisis [opinion]

Lehigh Valley Live: How Lehigh Valley school districts are making sure kids don’t go hungry

The Standard-Journal: Mifflinburg district offering student meals

The Standard-Journal: Hundreds of students receiving lunches in Milton

WHYY: How three Pennsylvania teachers tackle remote learning in the time of coronavirus

PennLive: Dealing with coronavirus crisis, districts offer students new versions of school lunches

Citizens Voice: Meal distributions begin at local schools amid closures

90.5 WESA: How Schools Are Meeting Student Needs During Two Weeks Of Closure

COVID-19 Coronavirus Federal and State Guidance

State and federal guidance related to health and safety plans for reopening schools

Our schools and communities are all focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. Federal and state officials have created a number of resources aimed at advising schools on reopening.

 

   

A toll-free, round-the-clock support line is available at
1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has launched the statewide Support & Referral Helpline staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency and refer them to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.

Meetings, conferences, and cancellations

Consistent with Gov. Wolf’s advice, many in-person PSEA events and meetings will be postponed or moved to remote format. Please watch for announcements if you have already RSVP’d for an event. 

In addition, all PSEA offices will also be closed beginning Monday, March 16, at 5 p.m. Staff members will work from home and still be available to assist members via cell phone and email. You can reach them at the same phone numbers. Like many other organizations, PSEA and NEA have decided to cancel or postpone certain meetings, conferences, and events out of an abundance of caution in order to guard against the spread of coronavirus.

As medical professionals and government officials have pointed out, avoiding large gatherings is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus. So, canceling or postponing certain PSEA and NEA events is a judicious decision and is consistent with this good advice.