COVID-19 : The Latest Guidance on Reopening Schools

By: Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire

[email protected]

As summer is coming to an end, a lot of children and parents are wondering what school will look like for the 2020-2021 school year. On August 10, 2020, the Pennsylvania Departments of Health (DOH) and Education (PDE) released new guidance on the reopening of schools.

According to the release on Monday, the recommendations rely on two standard public health metrics used by public health experts: incidence rate and the percent positivity of diagnostic testing.  PDE has created a website with more details, but the below chart summarizes the recommendations for safely returning to school. Click here for details.

The metrics are available for every county in Pennsylvania on the DOH’s website. COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard. Department officials recommend school leaders consider two consecutive weeks of their county’s coronavirus transmission data before considering making a switch to a different instructional delivery.  The recommendation further suggests that when districts transition to a new instructional model, they take the time necessary to ensure a smooth transition. This could mean waiting a full marking period to change the model in order to ensure stability for students and their families. The exception to that would be if there were a serious outbreak of community transmission in a county which could require a quick shift to fully remote learning.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera emphasized that these recommendations are guidance to help superintendents and school boards make decisions about how to safely open and operate schools. These recommendations are not a mandate, but rather an additional tool available to school leaders; no adverse action will be taken against a school that chooses not to follow the guidance.

Importantly, regardless of the instructional model implemented, all schools must continue to follow the July 1, 2020 universal masking order.

The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur.  To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit or contact Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected]

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