An Advocacy Timeline

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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. Below is a chronological look at many of the things we've done since the pandemic reached Pennsylvania in March.

“When members need us most, PSEA is there for them. We’re absolutely committed to that and that is what we’re here for. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, and we’re not going to stop protecting and supporting our members - not for a single moment.”

PSEA President Rich Askey

March 12
PSEA President Rich Askey sends a letter to Gov. Wolf and Secretary Rivera, encouraging them to protect the paychecks and health care of education support professionals who may be furloughed if schools close because of COVID-19.

March 17
PSEA creates to provide up-to-date information and resources about the COVID-19 emergency. PSEA members have visited it over 200,000 times.

PSEA staff guide and support local leaders to address members’ health and safety concerns, remote instruction issues, and many other school closure matters with employers.

March 25
After PSEA members send 39,543 emails to state legislators, the General Assembly passes Act 13, which ensures that all school employees continue to be paid, receive health benefits, and earn a full year of retirement credit, even while schools are closed. Gov. Wolf signs Act 13 COVID-19 emergency bill into law a few days later. 

April 4
PSEA expands its online continuing professional development options so members can easily access courses.

April 6
PSEA issues key legal guidance to members about how Act 13 works and what protections members have.

April 7
PSEA offers the first “Keeping Calm in the Chaos” mindfulness training webinar, which has hundreds of attendees and leads to the creation of “Wellness Wednesdays” beginning in June.

April 9
Gov. Wolf closes schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. School employees continue to be paid, receive health benefits, and earn retirement credit because of Act 13.

April 29
PSEA releases legal guidance on ESSA implementation during the COVID-19 emergency.

April /May
PSEA Vice President Aaron Chapin and PSEA Treasurer Jeff Ney reach out to every local president across the state to find out what they and their members need.

May 4
PSEA releases NEA polling results showing that 9 out of 10 parents approve of how educators are handling the COVID-19 pandemic and providing instruction and services to students.

May 15
PSEA begins to lobby members of Congress for $175 billion in federal emergency aid for K-12 schools and colleges and universities. Members have sent U.S. senators more than 16,000 emails in support of this funding.

May 26
PSEA continues to expand its online continuing professional development options, offering more than 30 courses members can access live or by video.

May 29
After intense lobbying by PSEA, the General Assembly approves a state budget that includes a full year of public school funding, with no state funding cuts, even though most state programs received only five months of funding.

June 18
PSEA and other major education associations release a 137-page report with issues schools should consider as they adopt reopening plans.

June 24
PSEA begins to offer “Wellness Wednesdays” regularly to help members deal with the mental and emotional challenges of the pandemic.

June 25
The PA Department of Education releases a comprehensive report, “Considerations for Reopening PA Schools.

PSEA local leaders, with guidance and support from PSEA Field staff, work to influence their school reopening plans to ensure that they include key measures aimed at reducing health risks.

July 16
PSEA President Rich Askey sends a letter to Gov. Wolf and Secretary Rivera, encouraging them to direct all schools to begin planning for online instruction, in case it is needed.

The PA departments of Education and Health release updated guidance encouraging all schools to adopt reopening plans that require 6 feet of social distance and face coverings.

July 23
PSEA issues legal guidance to members on the reopening of schools.

PSEA Field staff work with local leaders to educate members and respond to questions on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave provisions, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) information, and various issues pertaining to remote instruction. PSEA Field and Legal staff work with local leaders and individual members to address health and safety concerns and requests for ADA accomodations.

August 3
PSEA begins a statewide digital advertising campaign, encouraging Pennsylvanians to take commonsense safety precautions so that schools can open safely.

PSEA President Rich Askey joins other statewide education associations to send a letter to Gov. Wolf and Secretary Rivera, encouraging them to create metrics to determine when schools are safe to reopen for in-person instruction or when they should use hybrid or online approaches.

August 10
The PA departments of Education and Health release guidance that includes reopening metrics, identifying counties at “low,” “moderate,” or “substantial” risk.