Pa. Teachers Union President Pushing for Schools to Move to Remote Learning

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – As COVID-19 cases mount, PSEA President Rich Askey is urging school districts in communities with higher transmission rates to transition to remote learning.

Individual school districts are responsible for developing a process for responding to COVID-19 cases at school, based on guidelines provided by the state departments of Health and Education. According to those guidelines, districts in counties with a “substantial” level of community spread (100 or more incidents per 100,000 or a 10 percent or higher positivity rate), should operate with a “full remote learning model.”

“The state departments of Health and Education developed these guidelines based on good science and what the infection rates are in a school’s community,” Askey stated in a release on Wednesday. “We must follow these guidelines to the letter. It’s the best way for us to slow the spread of this virus and keep our students, staff, and their families safe.”

At the beginning of the school year, only one county had a “substantial” level of community spread. By the end of October, that number rose to 26 counties. For the week ending Nov. 6, 38 counties had that designation.

“We commend those school districts that are working collaboratively with the state Department of Education to match their instructional models to the guidelines,” Askey said. “Those districts are placing a high priority on the health and safety of students, staff, and their families.”

But, he added, not all districts with “substantial” community spread for at least two weeks or more are following the guidelines calling for a temporary transition to remote learning.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for any school district to disregard the advice of medical professionals and scientists during a pandemic and put the safety of students, staff, and their families at risk,” he said.

“Temporarily pausing in-person instruction and transitioning to remote learning will allow students to remain on track academically without any risk to their health.”

Askey went on to state that educational professionals can continue to provide critical services in a remote learning setting.

“The health and safety of students, staff, and our families must be our top priority. We call on all school district leaders to follow the state’s guidelines to protect the health and safety of everyone in our school communities.”

The push for remote learning in areas with substantial community spread of the virus comes just days after an update from Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine that reported a distinct increase in counties at that level.

According to data from late last week, Adams, Armstrong, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Clarion, Crawford, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Tioga, Union, Venango and Wyoming counties were in the substantial level of community transmission.

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