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Background 

Over the past several months, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) engaged with educational leaders and other stakeholders regarding reopening for the 2020-21 school year. A clear theme that emerged from these conversations was the need for timely guidance to aid in planning for a return to in-person instruction, delivery of services, resumption of extracurricular activities and other programs (including those provided within schools by external organizations). This preliminary guidance document serves as a starting point for school leaders to consider in their preparations for the upcoming year. This guidance applies to school entities which include: school districts, charter schools, regional charter schools, cyber charter schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), and intermediate units (IUs).

Given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, PDE’s guidance will evolve as further research, data and resources become available. Any changes will be noted and date-stamped to foster usability. Every day counts as schools plan to reopen and resume in-person instruction.  And every day, we are learning more about how to do that safely. PDE’s guidance will continue to reflect the best available data and evidence on maximizing educational opportunities while mitigating disease spread.  Accordingly, within the next three weeks, PDE will release additional guidance that outlines steps for school re-openings while addressing safe operations, teaching and learning, and student wellness—with attention to equity throughout.