PSEA president demands that Bucks County officials issue guidelines for 6 feet of social distance in county schools

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PSEA president demands that Bucks County officials issue guidelines for 6 feet of social distance in county schools

For further information contact:
Chris Lilienthal (717) 255-7134
David Broderic (717) 255-7169

HARRISBURG, PA (Aug. 6, 2020) – PSEA President Rich Askey today urged Bucks County’s commissioners and Department of Health director to immediately change the county’s school reopening guidelines to recommend 6 feet of social distance for students and staff in school buildings. The county’s current guidelines suggest 3 feet of social distance.

In a letter to county officials, Askey strongly encouraged them to make their guidance consistent with state recommendations, which include 6 feet of social distance. Askey has continually communicated with state officials about the need for clear statewide directives on school reopening plans to reduce confusion and ensure consistency.

“Bucks County’s current guidelines, recommending 3 feet of social distance, are at odds with virtually every generally understood health guidance. Six feet of social distance is now the norm in Pennsylvania,” Askey wrote. “To recommend anything less in school buildings will put students, teachers, support professionals, and their families at unnecessary risk of contracting COVID-19 and increase the likelihood that they will spread the virus to others.

“As PSEA president, I have repeatedly urged the commonwealth to issue clear directives, rather than suggestions, on this and other issues related to safely reopening schools for in-person instruction. One of the key reasons I continue to do this is because, without state directives, county governments like yours as well as many school districts are simply ignoring the state guidance and making their own rules.”

“The members I represent in Bucks County want to teach and serve their students,” Askey added. “Their commitment to the county’s children is nothing short of extraordinary. But, where schools are returning to in-person instruction, they want to be certain that schools reopen in ways that reduce health risks.

“Arguments about the impracticality of enforcing this standard in schools don’t justify it. As we all know from health experts, the coronavirus doesn’t recognize borders, and it won’t give us a pass just because keeping space between one another to slow its spread is too hard to do. A mere 3 feet of social distance just doesn’t meet that standard. That’s why the county guidelines must change to clearly recommend 6 feet of social distance.”

Read the full letter here.

Askey is a Harrisburg music teacher and the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 180,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.