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March 9, 2020

Coronavirus and Our Planning

Coronavirus and Our Planning

Late Friday, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera sent a message to the K-12 educational community with the latest information from the state regarding the Coronavirus.  That message is re-printed below.

For our library community, the Secretary's and my own message to you is the same: the safety of the community, library users, and your library staff is of paramount importance.

While keeping the library open to provide services and information to your constituents is important, you should work with your local health and emergency officials to review and revise your pandemic plans.  To help you in your planning, attached you'll find the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) contacts for each county (PDF). 

If your public library finds it necessary to close due to the effects of the coronavirus, your library's Public Library Subsidy funding will not be jeopardized.  Please notify your district consultant and our office of any decisions to close your library, and the estimated length of time the library will be closed.

All questions related to the Coronavirus as well as notices of library closures should be sent to the state's newly established dedicated emergency response email address:

Finally, the Pennsylvania Department of Education will continue to coordinate with DOH and others to provide you with up-to-date information.  As librarians, I'm sure that you recognize that it is very important that we rely upon the most up-to-date, authoritative information available for the commonwealth on the Department of Health's (DOH) website:

Secretary Rivera's Message

Good afternoon,

It has certainly been an eventful few days across the commonwealth and nation as we all prepare and contemplate the potential impacts of the coronavirus in our personal and professional spaces.  I know this has not been an easy time to be a school leader and am sensitive to the impact I know this is having on your day to day work at the local level.

As PDE continues to monitor news about the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, we continue to collaborate with the Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, county municipal health departments and others to ensure the most current and accurate resources are available to all our education communities.

This morning [Friday, March 5, 2020], Governor Wolf announced that there are two presumptive cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania. The impacted people are under quarantine.

Over the past several days, PDE has received many requests from school leaders regarding the potential impact that the coronavirus could have on their school calendar, including meeting the required instructional time and on the administration of state assessments.

While instructional time and assessments are important state and federal requirements, as you continue to work with your local health and emergency officials to review and revise your pandemic plans, the primary goal of any plan should be preserving the health and safety of your students and staff.

When making contingency plans, you should consider using all available tools to meet instructional time, to include re-purposing snow days and Act 80 days built into your calendar or extending the school calendar.

If there is a time at which one or more schools in an LEA is in jeopardy of not meeting the 180 days or 990/900-hours required, PDE will publish a template on its website for LEAs to apply for a waiver to request no loss of state subsidy.

Additionally, if an outbreak of the coronavirus does impact your community and prevents you from administering PSSAs or Keystone exams, the Department will help you work through those scenarios when they arise.  Any plan on Covid-19 should be grounded in preserving the health and safety of the educational community.  To help you in your planning, attached you'll find the PEMA contacts for each county.  You can also find the most up to date list of these contacts on PEMA's website (PDF).

Based on today's [Friday's] Proclamation of Disaster Emergency by Governor Wolf, PDE will continue to work on and provide updated information and additional opportunities to engage as the situation develops. You are encouraged to visit the Department of Health's website for information regarding coronavirus.

To better streamline inquiries and responses, LEA representatives can direct all coronavirus related correspondence to our dedicated emergency response email address: RA-EDEmergencyResponse@pa.gov.

Thanks again for all you do on behalf of our kids and families in the commonwealth.

-Pedro

Glenn R. Miller, Deputy Secretary & Commissioner for Libraries