Commonwealth Highlights Successful Teacher Vaccine Initiative During U.S. Education Secretary Tour

teacher covidImage by Alexandra Koch

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega joined U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona this week for visits at Olney Elementary School in Philadelphia and Beverly Hills Middle School in Upper Darby, Delaware County. The secretaries met with students and educators as part of Secretary Cardona’s School Reopening Tour.

“I am extremely proud of the work educators and school communities continue to do to support our students across the commonwealth,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “We remain committed to doing everything we can to create the conditions for a safe return to in-person instruction as soon as possible. I am pleased that Secretary Cardona visited Pennsylvania schools today to hear reopening experiences first-hand.”

After his national tour, Secretary Cardona will share the information he has learned from other states and districts and across the Biden-Harris Administration to help more schools reopen quickly and safely and reach the President’s goal of reopening most K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his administration.

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Many Pennsylvania schools are providing in-person learning at school buildings and the Wolf Administration has taken several steps to help schools return even more students to the classroom, including a special initiative that vaccinated more than 112,500 teachers and staff in three weeks.

On Monday, the Pennsylvania departments of Health and Education announced modifications to the instructional model recommendations for Pre-K to 12 schools in response to updated guidance recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These updates are recommendations and not mandated. The transition of instructional models is dependent on local factors, including the size of the school building, the classroom size, resources, proportion of staff and students with special needs and underlying health conditions, and the ability to accommodate learning with equal access for all students.

Last week, the Pennsylvania departments of Health and Education announced modifications to the school closure matrix, as well as social and physical distancing recommendations. In alignment with updates from the CDC, the departments recommend K-12 public schools in counties with a moderate level of community transmission of COVID-19 now consider returning students to full in-person instruction in addition to blended/hybrid learning model. Counties with a substantial level of community transmission should consider blended/hybrid learning in addition to remote learning for K-12 students.

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At the end of March, the Wolf Administration announced nearly $5 billion in federal COVID-19 relief for Pre-K-12 schools. These funds will bolster schools and districts in their efforts to return to in-person instruction. Each entity will receive an amount proportional to the federal Title I-A funds received in 2020 under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Schools must use at least 20 percent of this to address learning loss and the social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care. Additional information on the allocation of funds can be found on PDE’s website.

For more information on the U.S. Department of Education, visit their website.

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For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, visit their website.

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