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August 16, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The Wolf Administration continues to prioritize creating the conditions for schools to provide in-person instruction and extra-curricular activities. Today, we joined the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) in announcing two new initiatives that will provide additional supports to protect your school communities and maintain healthy conditions.

As of 12:01 a.m. this morning, vaccine providers across the commonwealth are directed to support COVID-19 vaccination clinics at K-12 school entities and institutions of higher education through an Order by Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Health (PDF). When requested to do so by a school entity or an institution of higher education, vaccine providers are expected to make every effort to coordinate a vaccine clinic for the employees, contractors, volunteers, students, and/or students' families of the school. Clinics can be held at a school or at a location agreed upon by the school and vaccine provider. If a provider is unable to coordinate a vaccination clinic with the school, the provider is responsible for directing the school to the DOH so they can be provided with contact information for other vaccine providers. The United States Department of Education (USDE) recommends schools use the We Can Do This On-Site Vaccination Clinic Toolkit for help working directly with vaccine providers to setup vaccination clinics.

In addition to the Order outlined above, we joined the DOH in announcing a partnership with Concentric by Ginkgo Bioworks to provide free COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools across the commonwealth as an additional measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and outbreaks in schools. Pennsylvania was allocated nearly $338 million in federal U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds to detect, diagnose, trace, and monitor COVID-19 and prevent its spread in schools - the $87 million testing contract with Gingko will run through the 2021-22 school year. More information on the testing program is attached to this email (PDF), including the Testing Program Statement of Assurances (PDF) and how to sign up for informational webinars to learn more. We encourage all K-12 schools to take advantage of the opportunity to bring COVID-19 testing into your schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate a school shutdown.

It's important to note, the COVID-19 vaccination clinic and testing initiatives exclude Philadelphia County, as they have their own programs offering both of these strategies.

We know your communities are looking forward to the return to classrooms for the new school year - let's do everything we can to make sure they are safe while teaching, learning, and growing together.

Thank you for your continued leadership.