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COVID-19 Information and Resources for Members

Breaking News and Updates

September 8: PSEA provides members with information about the statewide mask order for pre-K-12 public schools and makes it clear that members must follow it. 

September 7: A statewide mask mandate for all pre-K-12 schools in Pennsylvania goes into effect.

August 31: Gov. Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam announce that a statewide mask mandate for all pre-K-12 schools in Pennsylvania will go into effect on Sept. 7 and continue until the Secretary of Health determines that the threat of COVID-19 has diminished to the point where a statewide order is no longer necessary. 

August 18: PSEA President Rich Askey calls on all school districts to require that students, staff, and visitors wear masks in Pennsylvania schools. 

August 5: The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all students, staff, and visitors in pre-K-12 school buildings wear masks.

July 8: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all students, staff, and visitors in pre-K-12 school buildings wear masks.

July 9: PSEA President Rich Askey urges school leaders to consult educators and support professionals on initiatives funded by the American Rescue Plan aimed at closing learning gaps and meeting student health needs.

May 17: PSEA President Rich Askey calls for safe, in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year.

March 29: According to the PA Department of Education, 111,358 teachers and school staff across Pennsylvania have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

March 16: PSEA President Rich Askey sends a letter to Gov. Wolf and members of the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Task Force thanking them for creating the school staff vaccination program.

March 3: Gov. Tom Wolf announces that a special COVID-19 vaccine program specifically for school staff members in Pennsylvania will begin on March 10. School staff members will receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at sites coordinated by intermediate units and staffed in some cases by members of the National Guard.

February 11:PSEA President Rich Askey joins other education associations to sign a letter encouraging Gov. Wolf’s administration to “prioritize providing the COVID-19 vaccine to Pennsylvania’s educators, support staff, and school administrators.”

Face Coverings in School Entities

PA Department of Health Masking Order

On Sept. 7, a statewide order took effect requiring students, staff, and visitors to wear masks in Pennsylvania schools. PSEA strongly believes that universal masking, per CDC guidelines, is the right thing to do to keep schools open for in-person instruction and reduce health risks for everyone.

Here are some important things to remember.

  • This is an order, and all PSEA members in school buildings must follow it. It is not a suggestion or a guideline. That means that all PSEA members must follow this order and wear masks in school buildings.

  • If members don’t follow the order, they could face legal consequences. Any person violating the order can, for each offense, be convicted of a summary offense and sentenced to pay fines or face jail time if fines are not paid. Fines range from $25 to $300. Criminal complaints can be filed with a local magistrate by the State Department of Health, County Departments of Health, or any person who knows someone has violated the order.

  • If members don’t follow the order, they could be subject to discipline. Under the Educator Discipline Act, educators must “comply with all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations and with written school entity policies.” For members who don’t comply with the order, a person who knows they have violated the order can file a complaint with the Professional Standards and Practices Commission.

Here are some key reasons why universal masking in schools is a good idea:

  • Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended universal masking in schools.

  • If we don’t take steps to protect students and staff in schools, people WILL get sick. And when they get sick, students will need to quarantine, and some schools will be forced to close.

  • Universal masking in schools can help reduce serious health risks for students, staff, and their families, keep students in the classroom, and significantly reduce unnecessary interruptions to in-person learning.

  • Clear, unambiguous direction on universal masking allows school staff to focus on educating their students in a safe environment.

State and Federal Masking Resources

PA Secretary of Health Order 

Governor’s Press Release

Governor’s Office FAQ

CDC School Guidance

 

“COVID’s Delta variant is highly contagious and infecting more children. That’s why I’m requiring masks in PA schools and encouraging everyone who can get vaccinated to do so.”
-Governor Wolf

Here are some key things you need to know about this order:

  • Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Alison Bream issued the face covering order under the authority of the Disease Prevention and Control Law, the Administrative Code, and Department of Health regulations. This authority is separate from the governor’s emergency powers.

  • The order will remain in effect until the Secretary determines that coverings are no longer necessary in schools to reduce the public health risks posed by COVID-19.

  • School employees could face legal penalties if they do not wear face coverings as required by the order. Criminal charges can be filed by any person against school staff.  Certified educators might place their certifications at risk if they do not follow the order.

  • PSEA members should comply with the order even if their school board has decided to defy the order or does not otherwise direct them to do so.

  • If a school board decides not to enforce the order, school employees are not in a position to independently insist that students wear masks. However, school employees must follow the order themselves.

  • If a school is not enforcing the order, members should notify their local association representatives.

Have a question about the COVID-19 emergency?

Professional Development

Even as we go back to school for in-person learning, PSEA continues to offer a wide array of professional learning opportunities to members online in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Members can earn Act 48 credit (PSEA is an approved Act 48 provider by PDE) and Chapter 14 verification to submit for District consideration toward the fulfillment of annual hours for HQT.

Check out these professional learning opportunities at www.psea.org/prolearning.

Whether you are looking to move from Level I to Level II or you simply want to move horizontally on the pay scale, PSEA offers the opportunity through Micro-credentialsonline professional learning, and Edinboro graduate coursework for $70 per credit. 

Have you yet? Tell us about it by dropping us a line at communications@psea.org.

Legislative Updates

PSEA Advocacy

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSEA has advocated for educators, support professionals, students, and their families. PSEA has encouraged policymakers to follow the health and safety recommendations of scientific and medical experts, offer the COVID-19 vaccine to school staff members, and direct state and federal resources to schools so that they have the tools they need to ensure that students receive the highest level of academic, social, and emotional supports.

American Rescue Plan provides historic school funding

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law on March 11, authorizing unprecedented federal investments in K-12 and higher education, support for state and local governments, and programs that will slash child poverty for children under 18 by nearly 50 percent.

The single largest federal investment ever in public education, the historic aid package includes $170 billion for K-12 schools and colleges and universities, with $6.46 billion of those funds earmarked for Pennsylvania.

Vaccine Information and Resources

Pennsylvania’s school staff vaccination program began on March 10. On March 31, the program was completed, after vaccinating nearly 112,000 school employees in less than four weeks. The process was smooth and well-organized.

As of September 10, 88 percent of PSEA had received one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Thank You to the Members of the Pennsylvania COVID -19 Vaccine Task Force

"On behalf of the 140,000 PSEA members who have already begun to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because of your efforts, I want to extend my gratitude for the incredible work you did to make the vaccine available to the school staff members who are so dedicated to teaching and serving Pennsylvania’s students."

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.

“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.”

NEA and PSEA Resource Library

PA Dept. of Health Masking Order

Legal Alert: advice on masking order

Legal Alert: Sec. of Health Order Regarding Face Coverings

Masking Talking Points

Masking research talking points

Research Document: Mask Safety (annotated)

Research Document: Masking Effectiveness (annotated)

Research Document: List of studies on masking effectiveness

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

Key News

Phila. Inquirer: Pa. school mask exemption loophole draws pushback from Wolf administration

Lancaster Online: Given the delta threat, the mask mandate for K-12 schools and child care facilities was overdue but the right call [editorial]

WHYY: Wolf stumps for school mask mandate in Norristown visit, downplays critics

Contact your UniServ

Should you have any questions regarding information or directives from your district, or any concerns about the consequences of your decisions regarding COVID-19 guidance, please contact your UniServ representative.