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PSEA is committed to making changes aimed at protecting everyone who works and learns in our schools.
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HARRISBURG, PA (Feb. 10, 2021) – PSEA President Rich Askey today urged Chester County’s commissioners and Department of Health director and members of the Delaware County Council to refuse any requests by county schools to waive current social distancing rules and overcrowd classrooms during a pandemic.
Chester County’s current health guidelines, which Delaware County follows, clearly state that where in-person learning is planned, schools must maintain 6 feet of physical distance between students, staff, and faculty in school buildings. If space limitations prevent that, schools are encouraged to explore other options, such as hybrid or all virtual learning models.
However, the guidelines state: “If evidence exists that indicates improvements in COVID-19 cases, transmission, deaths, hospitalizations, etc., schools may consult with the Chester County Health Department about transitioning to in-person with less than 6 feet of physical distance (3 feet as a minimum).”
Chester and Delaware counties have had a substantial level of COVID-19 community spread since November. Now is not the time to ease up on social distancing rules that are keeping students, staff, and their families safe in classrooms and learning spaces, Askey said.
“Educators and support professionals in Chester and Delaware counties want to be back in their classrooms and schools with students,” Askey said. “But we cannot do this safely by waiving current social distancing rules and overcrowding classrooms and hallways.”
In letters to County Health Director Jeanne E. Franklin and the Chester County commissioners and the Delaware County Council, Askey wrote: “Six feet of social distance is now the norm in Pennsylvania. To permit 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.
“The educators and support professionals I represent want to teach and serve their students. Their commitment to the counties’ children is nothing short of extraordinary. But, where schools are holding in-person instruction, our members want to be certain that the mitigation protocols in place will keep them safe and healthy.
“Public officials should not allow arguments about the impracticality of enforcing this standard in schools to justify diluting 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.”
Askey is a Harrisburg music teacher and the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 178,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.