Begin Main Content Area

November 23, 2020

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

Dear Colleague,

This year has been unlike any other in the history of public education. As secretaries of the Pennsylvania Departments of Health (DOH) and Education (PDE), we can certainly empathize; the demands are immeasurable, and decisions can be divisive.

COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across the state, our country, and the world. Pennsylvania's daily case rate is now over 6,000. While we continue to recommend full remote learning in counties with a substantial level of community transmission of COVID-19*, we also continue to allow you to determine how to apply these recommendations locally while addressing the health and safety needs of your school community.

It is critically important that, at a very minimum, every single school in the state is adhering to the revised face covering order and is taking all appropriate actions when positive cases of COVID-19 are identified among students and school personnel. As such, we write to you today with three important updates to share:

Revised Recommendations

Given evolving research and the need to align guidance to the unique parameters of Pennsylvania's school entities, updates have been made to the recommendations on procedures following a case of COVID-19 in a school. The updated recommendations are available on PDE's website.

Additionally, as our teams continue to review rapidly evolving research and evaluate our statewide response to teaching and learning during the pandemic, we anticipate making changes to our instructional model guidance to reflect new data and solid consensus within the scientific and educational communities. As always, we will communicate changes to you as quickly as possible.

Attestation Form

Public school entities must complete an attestation form if the public school entity – in whole or in part – is located in a county that is in the Substantial level of COVID-19 transmission* for the second week in a row or more:

  • If your public school entity elects to continue in-person instruction as of November 30, 2020, while the county in which it is located is under a Substantial disease transmission designation for at least two consecutive weeks, such instruction may not occur until the attestation form is signed by the chief public school administrator and the chair/president of the governing body of the public school entity and submitted via email to PDE by November 30, 2020. Please email the completed form to: RA-EDCONTINUITYOFED@pa.gov.
  • If your public school entity does not elect to continue in-person instruction as of November 30, 2020, the attestation form must still be signed and submitted via email to PDE indicating such by November 30, 2020. Please email the completed form to: RA-EDCONTINUITYOFED@pa.gov.

The attestation form is available on PDE's website. Your responsiveness to this request is critical in protecting school communities and slowing the spread of COVID-19 across Pennsylvania.

DOH Order

Today, I, Secretary Levine, signed an Order that provides authority to PDE to develop and distribute the attestation form and directs a mandatory move to remote learning if a public school entity does not sign the Attestation. This Order was issued on November23, 2020, and is available on DOH’s website.

You have been asked to protect your school community from an unpredictable virus that science is still trying to understand, mitigate the disproportionate impact these circumstances may have created, build consensus to balance competing demands, and ensure students have access to a quality education; thank you for everything you have done and continue to do.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health
Noe Ortega, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education

*Level of Community Transmission Table was removed from the PDE site on July 15, 2021. For updated data visit the CDC COVID Data Tracker.