How Pennsylvania is planning for the spread of coronavirus Wochit
Pennsylvania schools will stay closed into April as the state tries to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday.
The state’s public K-12 schools had originally been closed through March 27. State leaders said the extension, taking the closure through April 6, would help schools and parents plan ahead.
“Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers and all employees who work in our schools is paramount during this national health crisis and we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said Monday. “Extending the closure will help every community in its efforts to mitigate the spread.”
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To assist schools during the extended closure, Rivera said the state is ready to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students. Some districts have already begun posting online materials, and teachers are reaching out to parents and students with work.
Will school re-open sometime in April?
The governor’s order extends closures through at least April 6, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, but that doesn’t mean school closures won’t be extended further. Some other states have already announced closures into May or for the rest of this school year.
When it’s determined that students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day, according to the Department of Education.
Kansas became the first state in the U.S. to cancel school for the rest of the year statewide over coronavirus in an announcement made last week. Virginia followed suit Monday.
Most of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities have moved classes online for the rest of the school year.
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What about students who rely on school meals?
Wolf’s order asks schools to keep nutrition programs going, while minimizing contact to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
School districts have responded, feeding thousands of students through drive-thru meal pick-ups. Contact your district for details on its program.
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Will seniors still graduate?
School administrators have not made specific statements as to whether graduation ceremonies will be affected.
Wolf said officials will do what they can to make sure those on track to graduate before coronavirus disruptions still graduate.
How are school sports affected?
The PIAA has postponed sports while the schools are closed.
The start of the spring sports season is postponed at least another two weeks based on the extended closings, the PIAA said Monday.
The state high school basketball tournaments and the 2A swimming and diving championships are also on hold while schools are closed.
No dates have been determined to restart sports.
Will Pennsylvania still conduct state testing?
Last Thursday the department of education cancelled all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year, as well as the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA).
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would drop the federal testing mandate for public schools.
Rivera also cancelled standardized testing for students in career and technical education programs for the 2019-20 school year. These include exams from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute and National Institute of Metalworking Skills.
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