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Pennsylvania releases new health and safety protocols for reopening schools

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happy children group in school

HARRISBURG, Pa.-- State education officials with help from the state health department have issued new protocols to guide fo Pennsylvania schools for reopening for in-person classes for the new school year.

Each individual school district to decide whether to hold classes at school buildings, via remote learning, or a mix of both.

State officials stress these guidelines should serve as a starting point for school leaders and will continue to evolve as further research, data, and resources become available.

Some of the rules released Thursday by the state Department of Health and the state Department of Education include:

  • Masks must be worn by students and staff at school and on the bus as required by the order signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on July 1, with some exceptions. Masks can be removed to eat or drink.
  • Students or caregivers should do a daily symptom screening before leaving for school.
  • Students, teachers and other staff are strongly encouraged to follow social distancing throughout the day with 6 feet of separation between desks and other seating.
  • If possible, hold classes in gyms, auditoriums, other large spaces or outdoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Student seating should be facing in the same direction.
  • Limit student interactions by staggering class times, creating one-way walking patterns in hallways, and, when feasible, keeping students in a classroom and rotating teachers instead.
  • For breakfast and lunch, consider serving individually packaged meals in classrooms and avoid across-the-table seating. If meals are served in a cafeteria, sit students at least 6 feet apart.
  • Limit the number of students on playgrounds at one time and encourage social distancing.
  • Encourage the use of virtual gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities.

Access the complete guidance and recommendations from Pennsylvania's Dept. of Education and Dept. of Health by clicking here.

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