Governor requiring public schools to commit to new safety measures if within county with substantial coronavirus transmission rate

Governor Tom Wolf announced on November 23rd a series of new “targeted mitigation efforts” in response to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. This article will focus on schools.

The Wolf Administration is now requiring public schools (pre-K to 12th grade) in counties that have been in the substantial transmission level for at least two consecutive weeks to commit to safety measures to ensure the safety and well-being of students and educators. Schools choosing to not commit to these measures are required to implement remote learning without all extracurricular activities. According to the administration, as of November 20th, there are 59 counties in the substantial transmission level for at least two consecutive weeks. There is no mention of private schools.

PA Department of Education

Montgomery County currently falls outside of the substantial transmission level for two consecutive weeks. The incidence rate (most recent seven days) per 100,000 residents is 229.8, but the PCR positivity (most recent seven days) is 8.5%. So it exceeds the limit of 100 for the incidence rate but is below 10% in the PRC category. The data used is from the PA Monitoring Dashboard.

“All of us have a responsibility to slow the spread of this virus so our children can stay or return to the classroom,” Governor Wolf said.

The new requirements are as follows:

  • Schools are mandated to comply with updated protocols if a COVID-19 case is identified in the school building.
  • By 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, chief school administrators and the governing body president/chair must sign an attestation form stating they have either transitioned to fully remote learning or are complying with the orders if they are conducting any in-person instruction while in the “substantial” range of transmission.
  • Those schools that do not sign or comply with an attestation are required to provide only fully remote learning and suspend all extracurricular activities as long as the county remains in the substantial transmission level.

Photo: Commonwealth of PA