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​May 14, 2021

This message was shared for the 2020-21 school year.

Dear Colleague,

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) shared answers to FAQs in response to the upcoming lifting of Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) targeted mitigation orders. Shortly thereafter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.

The purpose of this communication is to clarify the impact of the CDC update on current DOH/PDE guidance for school entities.

The latest CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals – two weeks after their final dose – can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physical distancing except where required by law, rule, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

Because most K-12 students in Pennsylvania are not vaccinated and only a few weeks remain in the 2020-21 school year, PDE recommends school entities continue to follow their current mitigation strategies. Remaining consistent in approach will help to ensure the safety and well-being of school communities while minimizing disruptions that may result from significant revisions to existing plans and systems. As a reminder, school entities may implement stricter mitigation strategies than otherwise required by law, rule, and regulations.

At the same time, PDE recognizes that many school entities may wish to revise current mitigation strategies to reflect the increased flexibility afforded to fully vaccinated individuals per the updated CDC guidance. Such revisions are within the discretion and authority of school entities. Notably, school entities that choose to forego requiring face coverings for fully vaccinated individuals would not be violating the Secretary of Health’s universal face covering order or the associated attestation process.

We understand that these are complex and challenging circumstances. Our hope is that this communication will assist you in working with your governing bodies and school communities to determine next steps. As always, we commend your resiliency and thank you for your commitment to students.

Sincerely,

Alison Beam, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health

Noe Ortega, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education