The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced today (Monday, March 23, 2020) that all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response effort. If necessary, the closure order could be extended beyond April 6 to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, state officials said.
Under the new timeline, school buildings will reopen on April 7, giving school administrators, teachers and other staff two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations, officials said. Students would return to school on April 9, unless extending the closure is needed in response to the situation with the virus at that time.
To assist schools during the extended closure, the state’s 29 intermediate units are ready to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students beginning tomorrow (Tuesday, March 24), officials said.
Additionally, PDE is canceling standardized testing for students in career and technical education (CTE) programs for the 2019-20 school year. These include exams from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), officials said.
“I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we navigate this unprecedented time together and thank you for your dedication to serving and supporting your school communities,” state Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera wrote in an email message to school officials.
Also today, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a stay-at-home order for the following eight counties in Pennsylvania: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Eerie*, Monroe, Montgomery and Philadelphia.
Under the governor’s order, personnel at state educational entities in all 67 counties who are providing life-sustaining services are permitted to continue their work, provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines. Life-sustaining services include, but are not limited to administration, food preparation and distribution, housing, security, information technology, building maintenance and operations (e.g., payroll).
* The stay-at-home order was amended on Tuesday, March 24 to include Eerie County.