My PSEA Login

|

Join PSEA

COVID-19/Coronavirus Information and Resources for Members

Message from President Rich Askey


May 29, 2020

Happy Friday, PSEA.

As we hoped, the Legislature has approved a state budget that maintains 2019-20 school funding levels for K-12 public schools and higher education. That means twelve months of funding – and no cuts.

This is an important step toward filling serious local revenue shortfalls. But it still leaves a gap that only federal funds can fill.

That’s why it’s so important for us to contact our U.S. senators and urge them to support $175 billion in emergency aid to schools.

We all know that schools can’t open in the fall and provide for the health and safety of students and staff while struggling with funding cuts.

You made that clear to state lawmakers. Now, we need to keep sending that message to elected officials in Washington, D.C.

So, before we start the weekend, send a message to our U.S. senators. Let them know we need $175 billion in emergency aid to schools.

Your voice makes a difference. So, please speak out today.

Read past messages from Rich:

May 27 April 22 April 7 March 26
May 21 April 21 April 6 March 25
May 18 April 17 April 3  March 24
May 12 April 16 April 2 March 23
May 8 April 15 April 1 March 20
May 5 April 14 March 31 March 19
April 30 April 9 March 30 March 18
April 28 April 8 March 27  

Breaking News and Updates

May 28, 2020: The Pennsylvania Senate today approved a state budget bill that includes no cuts to basic and higher education. The bill funds K-12 public schools and colleges and universities for 12 months at the same funding levels they received in FY 2019-20. The budget bill now goes to the governor's desk for his signature and he is expected to sign it soon. 

May 26, 2020: The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today approved a state budget bill that includes no cuts to basic and higher education. The bills funds K-12 public schools and colleges and universities for 12 months at the same funding levels they received in FY 2019-20. Many other pieces of the budget provide funding only through Nov. 30. The Senate is expected to take up the budget bill later this week.

May 19, 2020: The PA Department of Education has made several updates to the guidance and FAQ on the website. Updated topics include:

May 12, 2020: The Pennsylvania Department of Education updated its guidance on the one-year extension of professional educators’ continuing professional education compliance periods under Act 48 and Act 45. The extension was authorized by Act 13, the COVID-19 Emergency Law.

May 11, 2020: PSEA President Rich Askey testifies before the state Senate Education Committee about the work that PSEA members are doing during the COVID-19 emergency.

Keeping Connected E-newsletter

Keeping Connected is an e-newsletter for PSEA members to stay informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.

In this issue:

  • Critical alert: Your help is needed to pass the COVID-19 HEROES Act
  • PSEA part of statewide task force to discuss when and how to reopen schools
  • Congratulations to the 2021 Teacher of the Year finalists
  • On a bright note: Crawford County EAs and ESPs aim to raise $50k for community in need
  • My testimony before the Senate Education Committee
  • Wolf signs law extending deadline for FBI background checks
  • Register now to vote by mail on June 2
  • PSEA’s COVID-19 resources
  • Member Benefits highlight: ID theft protection from Securus ID

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.

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

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. 

NEA and PSEA Education Resources

PSEA LEGAL ALERT: FBI Background Check Extension

ESSA waivers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Implementing ESSA during the 2019-20 COVID-19 Pandemic

CARES Act Update

Evaluation FAQ

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: 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

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

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?

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

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. 

Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

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.

   

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.

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.

Public Education Groups Create Task Force To Plan For The Safe Reopening Of Pennsylvania’s Schools

A joint initiative across numerous education associations was announced on May 8, 2020 with the implementation of a task force to plan for the safe reopening of schools in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA), the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU), PA Principals Association, the Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators (PACTA), and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) will have representation on working groups categorized by key operational areas that include facility/logistics, staffing, instruction, transportation, special education, extra curriculars, health and safety, communication, resources, and community. 

The associations’ goal and the work of the task force is aimed at getting Pennsylvania’s students back into their schools and classrooms and do it as safely as possible. The school groups’ task forces will review all issues related to the safe return of Pennsylvania’s students and draft plans for school districts’ use. Issues for consideration will include the potential staggering of school schedules to reduce the size of classrooms and open space gatherings, enhanced cleaning procedures and equipment for buildings and buses, implementation of additional policies related to PPE and masks, air quality measurements and enhanced filtration, meal preparation and serving procedures, after-school activity precautions to mitigate the potential spread of germs, redesigning of facilities to enhance social distancing, and procedures for student assemblies.

The commonwealth’s 500 school districts, 80 CTCs and 29 IUs have done a remarkable job of rapidly pivoting to meet all students needs via online and remote resources. However, school leaders and educators also recognize that Pennsylvanians are anxious to get students back in their classrooms this fall. 

Association leaders emphasized that everyone involved in public education wants what’s best for Pennsylvania’s students and that they want to ensure that all viewpoints are considered so that schools can plan for every possible eventuality.

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.