HARRISBURG (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health have introduced recommendations to school administrators and governing bodies on what instructional models they should consider implementing for the upcoming school year, after some school officials asked for further guidance.
The recommendations are based on two public health metrics used by experts: incidence rate and the percent positivity of diagnostic testing. Those metrics are available on the DOH’s website.
Each county in the commonwealth is designated as having a low, medium or “substantial risk of community transmission."
Based on the designation, each county is recommended fully in-person, fully remote or a blended hybrid model for instruction.
As conditions change and the pandemic fluctuates throughout the school year, the metrics and designation will help schools make decisions on what model fits best.
While numbers may change week to week, officials are recommending that schools consider changing learning models after two weeks.
“ For example, a school offering a blended/hybrid model in a county identified as “moderate” might consider transitioning to a fully in-person model if the county moves to “low” for two consecutive weeks,” officials said in a release.
“We remain committed to helping our school leaders make thoughtful decisions about the 2020-21 school year, while helping Pennsylvania stem the tide of COVID-19 infections in our communities,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. “From the beginning of this pandemic, we have said that decisions would be based on science and on data. These recommendations use that data to help schools make local decisions.”
“Since unveiling initial public health guidance for schools earlier in the summer, both the departments of Education and Health have engaged with superintendents and other education leaders regarding their questions and concerns,” Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Matthew Stem said. “With the continued uncertainty and varying infection rates across the state, school leaders have asked for additional guidance to help them make decisions about reopening schools.
The recommendations are not a mandate but rather an additional tool for districts looking for further guidance.
More information can be found on the state's website.