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Week of 8-10-2020

Inside this issue

  • Gov. Wolf offers new reopening guidance metrics
  • I testified twice last week to demand more specific reopening safety guidelines
  • Let’s tell everyone to do their part and keep us all safe
  • Upper Darby educators band together to support a community in need
  • Delegates elect PA middle school teacher Becky Pringle as NEA president
  • PSEA’s Center for Professional Learning: Summer Learning Series
  • Member Benefits spotlight: Identity theft protection plans

Gov. Wolf offers new reopening guidance metrics

Gov. Tom Wolf today outlined new statewide guidance aimed at helping schools decide whether it is safe to reopen for in-person instruction.

The guidance places each Pennsylvania county in one of three tiers, based on the county’s COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population or its infection rate percentage. Depending on what tier a county is assigned, the guidance provides recommendations about whether public schools should open for in-person instruction, adopt hybrid plans, or offer remote learning only.

Low – Full In-Person InstructionSchools in counties with under 10 cases per 100,000 and with an infection positivity rate of under 5 percent can have full in-person instruction.

Moderate – Blended Learning Model or Full Remote Learning: Schools in counties with between 10 and 100 cases per 100,000 or with an infection positivity rate of between 5 percent and 9.9 percent should provide blended learning or full remote learning only.

Substantial – Full Remote Learning Only: Schools in counties with more than 100 cases per 100,000 or with an infection positivity rate of 10 percent or over should offer full remote learning only.

Case and infection rate information used to determine which tier a county is assigned will be updated weekly. According to the guidance, school entities should deliver instruction as described in the tier into which their county falls for at least two weeks. Any county with fewer than 10 cases is excluded from the new guidance.

These new reopening measures are guidance for our schools, and PSEA will strongly encourage all schools in Pennsylvania to follow it. Doing that will ensure that Pennsylvania’s students, staff, and families stay safe; that we slow the spread of the virus; and that we know schools will be safe places to learn and work when the virus is under control.

We’re grateful for the governor’s leadership and appreciate his commitment to keeping Pennsylvania’s students, educators, support professionals, and their families safe. His announcement today provides a clear pathway for school leaders who are struggling to decide whether it’s safe to reopen schools for in-person instruction.

Stay tuned for more information as this develops. PSEA will continue to push the state to produce the clearest possible guidance.

I testified twice last week to demand more specific reopening safety guidelines

Last week I appeared before both the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus Policy Committee and the House Education Committee to talk about safely reopening schools.

I know you’re all eager to see your students and your colleagues in person. I also know your enthusiasm is severely hampered by your valid and serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of everyone in school if returning to in-person instruction is done without crucial safeguards in place.

That is why we have continued to call upon Governor Wolf  to provide the education community with consistent and clear direction. Here’s what we’re asking for:

  1. It is clear from the Department of Health and PDE directive that students and teachers must wear masks, unless there is documentation that they fall under the exception. The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by requiring everyone to wear a mask.
  2. Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to essential staff. The reality is that our school staff are about to become front-line workers and they should be provided the equipment necessary to protect themselves.
  3. Require robust, regular cleaning of facilities and sanitation regimen. Planning for how to do this efficiently, on a daily, if not more frequent, basis, is essential for the safe reopening of schools for in-person instruction. 
  4. Require clear and detailed quarantine protocols for students and staff. Our members are concerned that some of the health and safety plans approved by school entities do not adequately address how positive cases among staff and/or students will be addressed.
  5. Require notification and contact tracing if a student or employee tests positive.
  6. Prohibit schools as polling places or require additional sanitization and ventilation. It is not wise to have schools physically open as polling stations, potentially allowing thousands of people into the schools to vote during a pandemic.

Stay tuned to our social media and other member communications as we proceed. And know that we’re doing everything we can to keep you safe.

Let’s tell everyone to do their part and keep us all safe

If we want to keep our kids, our communities, and ourselves safe, we need to encourage everyone in our communities to:

✔️ Wear a mask.

✔️ Stay 6 feet apart.

✔️ Wash your hands.

PSEA has launched an ad campaign about this on digital media to get the word out.

Upper Darby educators band together to support a community in need

Throughout the summer, Upper Darby School District’s teacher and support staff unions have been supporting their community through the local nonprofit Upper Darby Community Outreach Corp.

More than 100 volunteers have assisted by making deliveries, donating goods, or through other means such as cooking or packaging meals. Both unions also made financial donations to the organization. 

Every Tuesday and Thursday since the pandemic hit, more than 200 hot, homemade meals are provided to the elderly, unemployed, or otherwise needy citizens in the community.

So far, they’ve served close to 6,000 meals and have helped create a small food bank of staples to support the families. PSEA also supplied them with a grant for community involvement. 

Denise Kennedy, an ESP from Upper Darby, arranged a Zoom open mic night to aid in fundraising efforts.

“My daughter handled the technology and I wrote scripts, introductions, and got most of the talent,” Kennedy said. “It was really successful, and we raised just shy of $8,000 to help in the efforts.”

While most of the open mic’s talent pool was drawn from music teachers, students, and alumni, the group’s influence reached all the way to the PA Legislature.

“We got Sen. Kearney to do a Springsteen song right off the Senate floor!” Kennedy said. “And Rep. Zabel was a financial sponsor of the event too.”

Delegates elect PA middle school teacher Becky Pringle as NEA president

Delegates to the National Education Association Representative Assembly (NEA RA) have elected Becky Pringle of PA as the association’s president.

Originally from Philadelphia, Pringle is a middle school science teacher on leave from the Susquehanna Township School District in Dauphin County. She currently serves as vice president of NEA and previously served as secretary treasurer.

Becky has long been a force for positive change here in Pennsylvania and on the national stage. She is a devoted advocate for social and racial justice, a powerful voice for American educators and support professionals and the students we serve, and a valued friend and respected colleague.

On behalf of PSEA’s 180,000 members, I congratulate Becky and look forward to continuing to work with her to transform the education professions and improve student learning.

PSEA’s Center for Professional Learning: Summer Learning Series

Here’s what remains in the final month of our Summer Learning Series

Wellness Wednesdays:


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