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Week of 6-1-2020

A message from Rich Askey

During the COVID-19 emergency, PSEA’s goal is to support you.

Whether we’re providing updates on legislative activity, the latest news that impacts our schools, students, and livelihoods, or resources to help you teach kids in new and innovative ways, we want to do everything we can to help.

That’s why we’ll be doing this e-newsletter frequently.

I know that this is a tough, stressful time for you, your families, and your students. PSEA wants to make it easier by keeping in touch and offering good, helpful information.

So, have a look. And let’s keep connected.

Inside this issue

  • A special message for PSEA members
  • PDE releases guidance for school reopening
  • We need your help getting federal emergency aid!
  • On a bright note: The graduation ceremonies must go on
  • A message about reopening for ESPs from ESP Region President Dawn Bandle
  • Upcoming classes on PSEA’s Center for Professional Learning
  • Check out PSEA’s COVID-19 resources

A special message for PSEA members

Fear. Trauma. Anger. Sadness.

As we’ve turned on the news over the past several days, we’ve seen all of these emotions exploding onto streets across the nation. And we’ve talked about what’s happening in our living rooms, our kitchens, and maybe even with our students.

So many of our friends and neighbors are hurting, and it is only natural for all of us to ask the questions: Why? What can I do? What should I do?

All of us became educators for different reasons. But, for me, I think we all joined this noble profession because we wanted to change the world. And I believe that we do that – every, single day.

This is who we are. We are noble and purposeful.

This is what we do. We educate today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders.

And this is how we do it. We value students’ diversity. We embrace justice. We speak up when others don’t. And we model behavior that we want everyone we come in contact with to emulate.

There is no doubt that this is a sad and scary time.

The undercurrents of racial injustice and outrage that we’re seeing suggest that our nation is perilously divided.

But we aren’t.

You see, as PSEA’s president, I remind all of you that, as part of this union, you are all significant, valued, supported, and respected.

This is, after all, what unions do. We raise our voices when they must be raised. We speak out for fairness and equity.

As educators, we may not feel like we spend our days as advocates for social justice. But we do.

Every time we lock eyes with a student who needs our help, we advocate for justice. Every time we share a quiet word after class with a child who is hurting, we advocate for justice. Every time we silence an angry word in the hallways, we advocate for justice.

For us, there is no place for hatred and violence. There is no place for any type of discrimination and prejudice. Of course, in the world as we know it today, there is far too much of all of these things. But that doesn’t have to be the world we know tomorrow. Because we can change it.

We aspire to create a world that is as just and equitable as we endeavor to be.

So, today, as we ask ourselves – Why? What can I do? What should I do? – we can start by listening. As educators, we know this is the key to learning. I know I have more to learn, and I know that there is more work to do as we strive for that more equitable and just society.

We can also serve as models of behavior and as a resource for our students as they seek to make sense of what is happening in their communities.  We can model the purpose and the justice we strive for as educators and members of a union.

I am confident that we can be a catalyst for understanding and progress, because, whether you admit it or not, you are the heroes who change the world.

Together, we can change it. And we will.

Rich Askey

PSEA President

PDE releases plan for reopening schools

On Wednesday, PDE released a preliminary plan for reopening pre-K–12 schools that gives a clearer picture of what the process might look like from a statewide standpoint.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Elementary and secondary schools in the state’s yellow and green phase counties may resume in-person instruction and activities beginning in the new school year (any time after July 1).
  • Schools must first develop health and safety plans based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
  • Health and safety plans should be tailored to the unique needs of each school district and should be created in consultation with local health agencies, if possible.

PDE offers “possible considerations” for how to implement some of these guidelines. The emphasis, though, is on flexibility and local control. While plans must be approved by local boards of directors, submitted to PDE, and posted on the school or district website before a school reopens, the guidelines will be implemented based on what’s best for each school or district.

Many school districts are already preparing for the start of the next school year and it will be important for locals to be involved in the development of these plans. PSEA staff are ready to assist your local with navigating the many issues around reopening of schools.

Meanwhile, PSEA and many other stakeholders are part of a statewide task force on reopening that is finalizing its own set of guidelines, which are being written in concert with PDE. So, stay tuned for more specifics to emerge in the coming weeks.

We need your help!

We were fortunate that lawmakers in Harrisburg passed a stopgap spending bill last week that saw no cuts in education funding for the next 12 months.

But we’re not out of the woods yet. We need to encourage our U.S. senators to support $175 million in emergency federal aid to close the projected $1 billion shortfall we’re still facing in the next fiscal year.

Please click the link below and urge our senators to support this critical bill.

On a bright note: The graduation celebrations must go on

On Tuesday, Central Cambria High School in the Central Cambria School District tweeted out an adorable pic of one way they’re celebrating this year’s graduating students – by combining forces with nearby Jackson Elementary.

“The Class of 2032 is graduating this week....from kindergarten!” read the tweet. “They’ve had a little help from their Class of 2020 friends.”

It was a nice reminder that despite the challenges our graduating students have faced during this extraordinary time, their futures are yet unwritten. And now, as always, a whole world of experiences and possibilities awaits.

We wish all our graduates the very best. We’re excited to see what their future holds.

A message to ESPs about reopening from ESP Region President Dawn Bandle

Upcoming classes on PSEA’s Center for Professional Learning

Earn Act 48/Chapter 14 credits the fun and easy way!

Here’s what we’ve got coming up:


Act 48 Book Discussions

Check out PSEA’s COVID-19 resources

PSEA is committed to providing members with the most up-to-date information and resources on the COVID-19 emergency. We want to help you cope with this unprecedented challenge, and we want to make sure you have the tools you need to help your students.

Be sure to visit regularly. We update the information you’ll find there daily. Here are a few things you’ll find.

400 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

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