Harrisburg, Pa. - Students return back to school, roughly a month from now, to a world reeling from the impacts which came as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The state's Department of Health, and Department of Education, have provided the recommendations for families and schools planning to safely prepare for in-person learning and instruction.
The Department of Education will have an online, publicly-available database of individual school health and safety plans available later in the summer.
The Departments urge all eligible students age 12 and older as well as other members of the household to get a COVID-19 vaccination prior to the new school year.
“There are safe and effective vaccines available to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As students look forward to returning to classes, getting a vaccine should be considered an essential back-to-school item on this year’s list,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is our best protection from this virus," mentioned the state's acting secretary of health.
Face mask recommendations
According to the CDC, “Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
Schools may adopt stricter masking policies. Each school entity must include a locally determined face covering policy in its Health and Safety Plan.
“Our schools have gone to great lengths to help create safe learning environments and protect their communities throughout the pandemic,” said Secretary of Education Noe Ortega.
“Acting Secretary Beam and I advise schools to continue to protect their communities by following current CDC guidance, to the greatest extent possible, as they plan and prepare for the new school year. These measures will help ensure students, educators, and school staff experience a safe return to in-person teaching and learning this fall.”
The Departments urge K-12 schools to follow current CDC guidelines to the greatest extent possible when creating and implementing safety policies and practices.
All schools are required to submit a health and safety plan to the Department of Education, which will be publicly viewable on a dedicated webpage.