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State officials provide more insight into COVID-19 school guidelines

The Dept.'s of Education and Health are working to ensure any questions are answered as new efforts are being put forth for students to return to in-person learning.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — COVID-19 cases are still on the rise here in the commonwealth but state officials are still making efforts to provide in-person learning for students. 

This past week, the Departments of Education and Health updated their COVID-19 guidelines on schools to correlate with new mitigation efforts put out by the CDC. 

Acting Secretary for the Department of Education, Noe Ortega has said the department understands the need for students to have in-person learning and this effort will most likely need funding to pursue this.

"We want to have to continue to utilize some of the funding that's coming in to think about resources needed for continuity of learning in case there is pivots that need to happen by schools," he said.

Both departments have also stressed the importance of the learning level of each student that has been impacted by the pandemic and every student may not be on the same level when the time comes to return to in-person learning full-time.

For this reason, Department of Education Deputy Secretary Matt Stern, says it will be essential for school districts to implement resources to adhere to each students' individual learning level.

"We recommend strongly that districts put systems in place to differentiate, Stern said, "and provide different levels of instruction for students based on the areas where they're finding students may have gaps as well as areas that may benefit from acceleration."

As students and parents prepare for new levels of normalcy in learning, COVID-19 response director, Dr. Wendy Braund, reminds Pennsylvanians that COVID-19 cases and cases of the virus' variants are still out there and people should continue to practice safety measures to keep others and students safe.

 "While there is still much to learn, what we know is that the existing mitigation efforts handwashing, masking, and social distancing, all work to prevent the spread of COVID and variants," Braund said. 

While case counts decrease, and vaccine rollouts increase, Ortega reminds people around the commonwealth that the fight against COVID-19 is not over.

"While we have come a long way, we must stay laser focused as we continue to move forward together," he said, "we're certainly not out of the woods yet, but we're very close."

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