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COVID-19/Coronavirus Information and Resources for Members

Message from President Rich Askey

April 3, 2020

Happy Friday, PSEA.

I am hoping you could do something for me this weekend.

Here’s what it is.

Relax. Take it easy. Spend time with your families. Stay home and stay healthy.

With the entire state under a “stay-at-home” order, there’s really no place to go, is there?

All of you are working so hard, and you’re doing incredible work. But I know it isn’t easy.

You’re finding new ways to reach your students. You’re working to feed kids and clean schools. And you’re balancing all of that with the daily challenges of taking care of your loved ones – and yourselves.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of everything you’re doing. It’s simply inspiring.

But remember to take care of yourselves.

PSEA will be here for you - fighting for you, protecting you, and answering the questions you have about how to work through this incredibly challenging time.

That’s what PSEA does.

Now, take care of yourselves this weekend. Take some time to rest and recharge.

And know how grateful I am for everything you’re doing.

Read past messages from Rich

Breaking News and Updates

April 2, 2020: On PA Newsmakers, PSEA President Rich Askey talks about the incredible job PSEA members are doing as they teach and serve students during the COVID-19 emergency. 

March 31, 2020: Sec. of Education Pedro Rivera announces that PDE is developing and making available additional resources to help schools ensure that all students have access to continuity of education experiences. These voluntary resources are intended to help all schools but may be particularly beneficial to those not currently offering online platforms.

March 31, 2020: PDE updates Q&A 

March 31, 2020: Act 13 of 2020 was recently signed into law by Gov. Wolf. This legislation adds a new section to the Public School Code, addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 on retirement service credits. COVID Emergency Bill PSERS FAQ

March 30, 2020: Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered K-12 school buildings to remain closed through an indefinite period of time as part of the commonwealth’s ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Keeping Connected E-newsletter

Keeping Connected is an e-newsletter for PSEA members to stay informed during the COVID-19 coronavirus school closures. In each issue, you'll receive the latest legislative and policy updates from your association, helpful links, and inspiring stories of educators going above and beyond to make the best of an extraordinarily difficult time.

COVID-19 Bill passes House and Senate, moves to governor’s desk

On March 25, both the state House and Senate approved a sweeping COVID-19 emergency bill to provide clear policy direction to Pennsylvania’s public schools and ensure that all school employees – both EA and ESP members – are paid for the rest of the school year and get a full year of retirement credit.

“This is great news,” said PSEA President Rich Askey. “We have been encouraging the Legislature to act on this bill. And you sent more than 20,000 emails last week, asking lawmakers to make this a priority. They listened to us, and they did the right thing.”

The bill:

  • Ensures all employees, particularly education support professionals, are paid; 
  • Ensures no employee loses retirement credit that they otherwise would have earned pursuant to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System;
  • Waives the 180-day school year requirement;
  • Increases the number of permissible flexible instructional days;
  • Requires PDE to apply for a federal waiver from PSSA and Keystone Exam testing and authorize the secretary to waive NOCTI and NIMS exams for career and technical education students;
  • Ensures that school entities provide proper protective gear for custodians who provide deep cleaning of potentially infected school buildings; and
  • Waives the 12-week student teacher requirement.

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

PSEA President urges Wolf to direct schools to pay all employees

On March 12, President Rich Askey communicated with Gov. Tom Wolf and Sec. Pedro Rivera urging them to contact all school entities in Pennsylvania and direct them to continue paying hourly employees. 

PSEA joins with education and labor groups to encourage swift passage of key COVID-19 bill

On March 18, PSEA joined with eight other education and labor organizations in a letter to legislative leaders, encouraging them to immediately consider legislation to set clear state policy for school districts and staff as they deal with the COVID-19 emergency. 

Let's say, "Thanks"

Wednesday, March 25 was a historic day for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

The Pennsylvania state House and Senate voted unanimously to approve emergency school code legislation that sets clear state policy for public schools during the COVID-19 coronavirus emergency and ensures that nearly all school employees — EA and ESP members alike — get paid and receive a full year of PSERS retirement credit. PSEA members stood up for our students, our schools, and our profession and played a key role in getting this bill passed. Now it's time to thank the lawmakers who made this happen. Please sign the petition to say, "Thank you."

PSEA President Rich Askey

NEA and PSEA Education Resources

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: ESSA Waivers Questions & Answers

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

COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency School Code Legislation

PSEA Wellness Webinar: Finding Calm in the Chaos

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

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?

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

Health Guidance

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 educating the public about the virus and advising Pennsylvanians about how we can prevent it from spreading.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued guidance on how to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus and has specific information related to K-12 schools, including a checklist for teachers and support professionals and tips about how to discuss the virus with children. 

Updated guidance (revised 4/1/2020) on the timing of disinfection after a suspected/confirmed COVID-19 case. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has information specific to Pennsylvania, including tips, updates on cases and testing, resources, and a detailed Q and A about coronavirus

That website also has information for K-12 schools.

Important tips about COVID-19 from CDC

Below is the guidance that we have from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We urge all PSEA members and others in our public schools to follow it carefully:

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Stay home when you are sick. Do not return to work until you are free of fever (100.4° F or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. acetaminophen, cough suppressants, etc.).
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  CDC Handwashing Instructions
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Have a question about the COVID-19 emergency and how to respond to it?

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.

PSEA meetings, conferences, and events

The May House of Delegates is POSTPONED. 

The PSEA Board of Directors voted on March 25 to postpone the May House of Delegates (May 15-16) due to the COVID-19 emergency.

The House of Delegates will be held in December 2020, and elections scheduled for the May House will be conducted at that time. PSEA will provide updated information about this in the near future. 

The following PSEA conferences, meetings, and events are being CANCELLED:

  • The Student PSEA Conference and Convention in Erie (April 2-4)
  • The Special Education Conference in State College (March 27-28)
  • Committee Meeting Weekend (March 27-28) - unless moved to a remote format
  • Committee Meeting Weekend (April 3-4) - unless moved to a remote format

The following PSEA conferences are also being POSTPONED and will hopefully be rescheduled soon:  

  • The PSEA-Retired House of Delegates (April 20-21)

PSEA regional events

  • Central-West Region
    Central-West HOD:  May 6, 2020 – POSTPONED
  • Eastern Region
    Eastern Region PSEA Scholarship Banquet and Awards Ceremony:  April 17, 2020 – CANCELLED
    Eastern Region HOD:  April 18, 2020 - POSTPONED
  • Southwestern Region
    All events in SW Region have been POSTPONED until further notice – this includes: HOD, Leadership Conference and any other events
  • Midwestern Region
    MWR DPS Conference:  March 19, 2020 – POSTPONED.  Date TBD.
    MWR HOD:  March 25, 2020 – POSTPONED.  Date TBD.
    MWR LDC:  March 27-28, 2020 – CANCELLED
  • Western Region
    WR Legislative Breakfast:  March 28, 2020 - CANCELLED
    WR House of Delegates:  April 15, 2020 – POSTPONED
    WR Retiree Meeting:  April 23, 2020 – CANCELLED

NEA meetings, conferences, and events

The following NEA conferences, meetings, and events are being CANCELLED:   

  • The National Leadership Summit in Orlando (March 13-15)  
  • The Higher Education Conference in Orlando (March 12-13)  
  • The NEA-Retired Conference in Orlando (March 15-16)  
  • The ESP Conference in New Orleans (March 20-22)   
  • The Uniserv Training in Seattle (March 23-27)
  • NEA/NCSEA Management Collective Bargaining Conference (March 10-11) 

The following NEA conferences are being POSTPONED and will hopefully be rescheduled soon:  

  • The 2020 New Educator Kick-off in Portland, OR (originally March 24-26)  
  • The Early Career Educator Group Training in Portland, OR (originally March 27-29)  
  • NCSEA Convening on Teacher Shortages (originally March 30-31) 

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 CDC’s guidance, please contact your UniServ representative.