CDC Updates Guidance on Airborne Spread of Coronavirus (October 20, 2020)

According to NPR, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the coronavirus can be spread through airborne particles that can linger in the air “for minutes or even hours” — even among people who are more than 6 feet apart.

In new guidance published on October 5, 2020 on its website, the CDC also acknowledged that, under certain circumstances, people have become infected by smaller particles that can linger in the air in enclosed spaces that are poorly ventilated. This occurs when people may be breathing heavily (e.g., while singing or exercising) and there is now evidence that the amount of smaller infectious droplets and particles that a contagious person produces “became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people”, even if they were more than 6 feet away.

Along with improving indoor ventilation, the CDC recommends that people stay at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible, avoid crowded indoors spaces, and to wash their hands regularly.

To read this article in its entirety, click here.

USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids for Entire 2020-21 School Year (October 13, 2020)

On October 9, 2020,  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending flexibilities to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year. This unprecedented move helps to ensure that all children across the US have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA previously extended child nutrition waivers through December 31, 2020 based upon available funding at the time. The flexibilities extended  will now allow schools and other local program operators to continue to leverage the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to provide no cost meals to all children, available at over 90,000 sites across the country, through June 30, 2021.   To view the press release, click here.

USDE and OCR Release Q&A Documents Regarding the Delivery of Instruction During the Pandemic (October 12, 2020)

Separate documents were recently released by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

In a document titled Questions and Answers for K-12 Public Schools In the Current COVID-19 Environment, the USDE reminded schools of their obligations to special education services and civil rights laws regardless of whether students are learning in-person or remotely. The nine-page Q&A document also emphasized that schools must still accept harassment complaints and investigate the allegations under the new Title IX rule, which went into effect August 14, 2020, even if schools are only offering distance learning. Schools are not allowed to have blanket policies that prohibit new complaints from being submitted and accepted or to pause investigations and proceedings.

Guidance from OCR said that although schools should make every effort for in-person learning opportunities, they cannot prioritize reopening plans for groups of students based on their race, national origin or color. The USDE, however, said schools may be required to provide in-person instruction for students with disabilities based on their individual needs. The guidance documents are in response to questions from the education community and to add clarity to existing law or policy, according to the department. 

In explaining why schools cannot phase-in in-person learning options based on a student’s “race, color or national origin,” OCR said such preferences would violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, schools may be required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to provide in-person services to certain students with disabilities so those students can receive a FAPE. 

To view the Questions and Answers for K-12 Public Schools In the Current COVID-19 Environment, click here.

To view the document titled Questions and Answers Regarding the Department’s Final Title IX Ruleclick here.

Information provided by Education Dive.

Governor Amends Gathering Limits Orders, Affecting School Events (October 11, 2020)

Governor Tom Wolf and PA Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine have amended existing COVID-19 orders to allow for adjusted capacity to gathering limits while keeping in place mitigation tools that include wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
As of Friday, October 9th, amended orders now allow for venue occupancy limits to play a bigger role in determining the number of people permitted both inside and outside of events or gatherings.

The amended orders define an event or gathering as a temporary grouping of individuals for defined purposes that takes place over a limited time frame. This would pertain to school sports and other similar school-sponsored events. The order also clarifies that groups of people who share a space within a building in the ordinary course of operations, such as in a classroom, office building, or similar regularly occurring operation of a business or organization, are not considered events or gatherings.


To view the governor’s amended order that contains the maximum occupancy allowable rates for indoor and outdoor events, click here.
To view an updated FAQs on the PA Health Department website, which contains questions specific to schools and school sports, click here .

PDE Disseminates Suicide Prevention Materials (October 6, 2020)

Following the recognition of September as National Suicide Prevention Month, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and its partners are highlighting several resources to support school communities in their youth suicide prevention efforts.  All of the below resources may be accessed through the Prevent Suicide PA website at https://www.preventsuicidepa.org/.

 For additional resources to support your school-based suicide prevention efforts, visit PDE’s Act 71 page and Prevent Suicide PA’s Act 71 page.