PDE Cancels PSSA, PASA, and Keystone Tests for 2019-20 (March 19, 2020)

On the afternoon of March 19, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, the PA Department of Education (PDE) announced the cancellation of all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year. This includes the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA). Thus, PDE will be submitting the required waivers to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and no PA schools will be administering those tests this school year. At some point, PDE will be releasing information on the effects of the cancellation regarding accountability and school reporting.

OCR Releases Webinar, Fact Sheet for Protecting Students’ Rights During COVID-19 Response (March 19, 2020)

The Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR’s) Center for Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-discrimination launched a short webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In addition, OCR published a fact sheet for education leaders on how to protect students’ civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure. These resources will assist education leaders in making distance learning accessible to students with disabilities and in preventing discrimination during the Coronavirus response effort.

OCR Short Webinar on Online Education and Website Accessibility

Fact Sheet on Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students.

View this item as a web page.

Governor Wolf Announces Closure of Pennsylvania Schools (March 13, 2020)

Today, Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will be closed for 10 business days effective Monday, March 16. The administration has been working with school districts as well as state and local officials to gather input on this decision. The Wolf Administration will continue to monitor Covid-19 in the Commonwealth, and at the end of 10 days will reevaluate and decide whether continued closure is needed.

Governor Wolf made the following statement:

“We understand that these are trying times and recognize the impact of the coronavirus on our students and communities.

First and foremost, my top priority as governor – and that of our education leaders – must be to ensure the health and safety of our students and school communities.

As such, I am ordering that all schools in the commonwealth close for the next two weeks.

Be aware that no school district will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hours requirements.

The Department of Education will work with intermediate units and other stakeholders to support school districts with any continuity of learning plans they may be pursuing.

Also, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced today that it received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow eligible schools to serve meals to low income students in a non-congregate setting, such as a drive-through or grab and go, during this closure. We will also work with schools to assist them with those plans.

We appreciate your collaboration as we work together to deal with this difficult issue.”

PEMA to Curtail Scope of All Hazards Exercise (March 11, 2020)

On March 10, 2020, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency released the following information via PennLink to all LEAs.

“Due to real world events, PEMA will be curtailing the scope of the March 26, 2020, All Hazards Exercise (2020AHX). The CRCC will not activate for the exercise; only the SimCell will be operational to permit counties, schools, health organizations, nursing and personal care homes, and day cares to test their emergency plans.”

“PEMA will re-evaluate this course of action based on the following actions occurring:

  • An increased number of county emergency operations centers (EOCs) activating
  • An increased number of school districts closing schools
  • A large number of those already registered withdrawing from the exercise in TRAIN PA.”

State Exercise Officer Reg Godfrey will be contacting personnel on the design team.

PDE’s Bureau of Special Ed. Releases Required IDEA Notice to LEAs (March 11, 2020)

On March 10, 2020, Carole L. Clancy, PDE Bureau of Special Education Director, released a Penn Link communiqué titled, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: State Regulations that Exceed Federal Requirements. According to Director Clancy, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended, requires the Pennsylvania Department of Education to identify to school entities and local educational agencies regulations, rules, and policies that are state-imposed requirements and not required by the federal special education statute and regulation (20 USC §1407 (a) (2)). This notice fulfills the requirement to distribute an updated list of state-imposed requirements that exceed IDEA.

Chapter 14 (22 Pa. Code Chapter 14)

§14.101           Developmental Delay (Relating to Definitions)

§14.105           (Relating to Personnel Qualifications and Caseload)

§14.106           (Relating to Access to Instructional Materials)

§14.108           (Relating to Access to Classrooms)

§14.121           (Relating to Child Find)

§14.123           (Relating to Evaluation)

§14.124           (Relating to Reevaluation)

§14.125           (Relating to Criteria for Specific Learning Disability)

§14.131           (Relating to Individualized Education Program)

§14.132           (Relating to Extended School Year)

§14.133           (Relating to Behavior Support)

§14.143           (Relating to Disciplinary Placements)

§14.144           (Relating to Facilities)

§14.145           (Relating to Least Restrictive Environment)

§14.146           (Relating to Age Range)

§14.152           (Relating to Child Find, Public Awareness and Screening)

§14.153           (Relating to Evaluation)

§14.154           (Relating to Individualized Education Program)

§14.155           (Relating to Range of Services)

§14.157           (Relating to Exit Criteria)

§14.158           (Relating to Data Collection)

§14.162(a)       (Relating to Impartial Due Process Hearing and Expedited Due Process Hearing)

Chapter 711 (22 Pa. Code Chapter 711)

§711.5             (Relating to Personnel)

§711.6             (Relating to Annual Report)

§711.8             (Relating to Education Records)

§711.21           (Relating to Child Find)

§711.22           (Relating to Reevaluation)

§711.24           (Relating to Evaluation)

§711.44           (Relating to Extended School Year)

§711.45           (Relating to Access to Instructional Materials)

§711.46           (Relating to Positive Behavior Support)

§711.61           (Relating to Suspension and Expulsion)

§711.62           (Relating to Due Process)

Those with questions regarding this information, are urged to contact Lisa Irgang at lirgang@pa.gov or 215.379.1023.