OCR Disseminates Dear Educator Letter on AAPI Harassment (May 27, 2021)

Sent on May 27, 2021, a new Dear Educator Letter from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reminds schools of their obligation to investigate and address all forms of harassment in educational environments, including harassment directed toward Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students. This responsibility carries through the academic year and in summer school-sponsored activities. The new letter also provides resources to support schools in fulfilling this responsibility.  

Recipients are asked to review the letter and share with colleagues. You will find this letter in OCR’s News Room.  

Earlier this month, OCR, jointly with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, issued Confronting COVID-19-Related Harassment in Schools, a resource for students and families, in English and multiple Asian/Pacific Islander languages. The May 27, 2021 Dear Educator Letter builds on efforts across the government, including President Biden’s memorandum, Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, to recognize and address the recent increase in harassment and violence directed at AAPI individuals.  

To view the letter, click here.

The letter can also be accessed in OCR’s News Room

Biden Administration to Provide Money for Hiring School Nurses (May 14, 2021)

On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the Biden administration announced the dedication of $7 billion from American Rescue Plan funds to hire and train public health workers, including school nurses to help schools safely reopen and remain open for in-person instruction. According to a statement from the White House, the funding will support a range of public health roles, including funding for Disease Intervention Specialists to do contact tracing, case management, and support outbreak investigations, and dedicated funding to hire school nurses to help schools safely reopen and remain open for in-person instruction.  

Click here to access the statement from the White House.

USDE Launches Outreach Campaign to Millions of K-12 Students Now Eligible for Monthly Discounts on Broadband Internet Service (May 14, 2021)

On May 12, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) launched a major outreach campaign to millions of students who are now eligible for a monthly discount on broadband internet service under a temporary program administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The campaign will inform millions of families with children participating in the free or reduced-price lunch or school breakfast program, and 6.5 million Pell Grant recipients that they are now eligible for the discount of up to $50 per month. Eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands can receive a discount of up to $75 per month.

For more from the USDE, click here.

Click for more resources en español (Spanish).

PDH: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Fully Approved for Use in 12- to 15-Year-Olds (May 13, 2021)

On May 13, 2021, the PA Department of Health (PDH) encouraged all COVID-19 vaccine providers to start vaccinating anyone age 12 and over with the Pfizer vaccine as recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices held a meeting today to review the data and make an official recommendation to use the vaccine for this age group. The CDC also said that the Pfizer vaccine could be co-administered with other routine vaccinations.

“Hundreds of vaccine providers in Pennsylvania already have Pfizer vaccine on hand and are ready to safely and efficiently vaccinate people in this age group,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said, noting that the state’s vaccine provider network is expanding each week.

People can find Pfizer vaccination locations near them using Vaccines.gov, also known as Vaccine Finder. Individuals also can text their zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish and receive three possible vaccination sites in their area, then choose locations based on availability of the Pfizer vaccine.

In Pennsylvania, immunizations, like other general medical services, require consent. The Department of Health recommends that vaccine providers follow their current policy for vaccinations of minors.

“Once all of the approvals are in place, Pennsylvania vaccine providers will be ready to begin vaccinating these young people to add them to the more than 5.7 million Pennsylvanians who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far,” Acting Secretary Beam said.

The eligibility of 12- to 15-year-olds does not change PDH’s criteria for at least 70 percent of Pennsylvania adults to get fully vaccinated for the state’s mask mandate to be lifted. According to the CDC, as of this morning, 46.2 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. 

Learn more at the CDC’s “COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens” page.

USDE and DOJ Release “Confronting COVID-19-Related Harassment in Schools” (May 11, 2021)

On May 10, 2021, the US Department of Education (USDE)  and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released Confronting COVID-19-Related Harassment in Schools, a fact sheet for students and families. You may find this resource on the Office for Civil Rights website in English, Chinese-simplified, Chinese-traditional, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese, with additional translations expected later this month. School officials are asked to share this document widely to help ensure that students and families are aware of their rights in school settings and of how to access help if needed, including from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education and the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice.

As President Biden wrote at the start of his presidency in his Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, “The Federal Government should combat racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and should work to ensure that all members of AAPI communities — no matter their background, the language they speak, or their religious beliefs — are treated with dignity and equity.”

This resource is one part of the work to counter racism and ensure equity and equal opportunity for all.