Gov. Wolf Signs 13th Renewal of Opioid Disaster Declaration (February 9, 2021)

On February 9, 2021, Governor Tom Wolf signed the 13th renewal of his January 2018 opioid disaster declaration to help the state fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.

This declaration was the first of its kind for a public health emergency in Pennsylvania, and proved to be an important tool to allow the state to respond quickly, adapt to developing needs, increase access to treatment and save lives. The declaration allows the state to loosen regulations and work outside of typical procedures to expedite aid and initiatives to help those suffering from opioid use disorder and those who work to prevent and treat this medical condition. It also allows agencies more flexibility to coordinate and share resources to address the changing needs of communities throughout the commonwealth. To learn more, click here.

PDE Releases PA KEI Memo (February 8, 2021)

On February 7, 2021, Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega, sent a PennLink titled Kindergarten Entry Inventory – 2021-2022 School Year, which stated that all elementary schools are encouraged to implement the PA KEI in the 2021-22 school year to assist in meeting enhanced federal requirements. The PA KEI is available to all LEAs at no cost and remote implementation options are available if necessary. Pennsylvania’s Kindergarten Entry Inventory (PA KEI) is a reliable reporting tool that offers teachers an instructional strategy for understanding and tracking a student’s proficiency at kindergarten entry. The PA KEI collects information on a consistent set of standards-based indicators across the commonwealth. The PA KEI is based on Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood and the Pennsylvania Core Standards. PA KEI includes 30 indicators and provides a comprehensive profile that includes the domains of: Social and Emotional Development; English Language Arts; Mathematics; Approaches to Learning; and Health, Wellness and Physical Development. PA KEI is intended to be used by kindergarten teachers to record a student’s demonstration of skills within the first 45 calendar days of the kindergarten year. More information is available at www.kei-pa.org.

 The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides opportunities to strengthen the contribution of high-quality early childhood education in school reform and improvement efforts. The law recognizes that school success starts before a student enters the K-12 setting. It calls on states to describe how they will assist school districts and elementary schools to collaborate with early childhood education programs, and to invest in evidence-based practices. ESSA supports early learning and local education agency (LEA) collaboration in three main ways: (1) expanding access to high-quality early learning; (2) encouraging alignment and collaboration from birth through third grade; and (3) supporting educators. The PA KEI is a tangible tool to assist districts in understanding the comprehensive learning strengths and needs of students entering the K-12 setting, in establishing common expectations and language for beginning and extending collaborative conversations with pre-kindergarten programs and families, and in planning and implementing joint professional development opportunities that focus on strengthening evidence-based practices for young learners.

Implementing the PA KEI requires a Point of Contact (POC) who will serve as the liaison between LEA administrative staff, implementing kindergarten teachers, OCDEL and data systems staff. A dedicated POC ensures effective communication and implementation throughout the PA KEI process.  To initiate PA KEI participation in the 2021-2022 school year, send the POC name, email address, and phone number to RA-PWOCDELKEI@pa.gov by May 30, 2021.

All kindergarten teachers who have not previously participated must complete a required professional development on-line course and obtain a certificate of completion in order to gain access to the web-based data system. Teachers with an expired proficient user certificate (more than five years since certification) are required to complete the professional development protocol. Below is the tentative training schedule and timeline for participation:

  • March-September:                  Required professional development online course available
  • August-September:                 PA KEI systems professional development opportunities available
  • By the start of school:             Implementing kindergarten teachers must have a required professional development online course certificate of completion on file in order to gain systems access
  • 45 calendar days
    from start of school:                Observation and evidence collection/scoring completed
  • 60 calendar days
    from start of school:                Data submissions (student outcomes) finalized within data system

Questions about the PA KEI memo may be sent to RA-PWOCDELKEI@pa.gov.

 

2021-22 Budget: Gov. Wolf Proposes Historic Increase in Basic Ed. Funding (February 3, 2021)

Governor Tom Wolf is proposing a historic $1.35 billion, or 21.6%, increase in basic education funding in a budget proposal that has been met with great enthusiasm by school district advocates and is seen as as a long overdue change that will address funding inequities that have adversely affected poorer and predominantly black school districts for decades, while at the same time ensuring that no school district receives less than they received in 2020-21.

Click here for the full article from PennLive.

PDE Seeks Sponsors For Summer Meals Nutrition Programs (February 2, 2021)

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is asking organizations across the state to consider providing nutritious meals to youth during the summer months (June – September) through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program.

The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally funded child nutrition program designed to serve youths ages 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. Individuals over age 18 who are mentally or physically disabled and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also eligible to receive free meals at the Summer Food Service Program sites. The program’s regulations allow participating organizations to be reimbursed for meals served to youth who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

Due to the pandemic, the Summer Food Service Program was approved to operate beginning March of 2019 and continues to operate in off-summer times to ensure children across Pennsylvania have access to meals during COVID-19.

Approximately 250 organizations normally participate in the Summer Food Service Program, providing nutritious meals to children at over 2,200 locations across Pennsylvania during the summer season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater need for more sites throughout the state. 

Participating organizations must be year-round, not-for-profit entities – this may include schools; local, municipal, or county governments; libraries; places of worship; fire and police stations; summer camps; and national youth sports programs. Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the sites that provide meals to children.

Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day: lunch or dinner, and breakfast or a snack. Those serving primarily migrant children may be reimbursed for up to three meals a day. Camps may serve up to three meals a day, but they are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

The deadline to apply to become a participating organization is June 15, 2021. For more information, visit PDE’s website: www.education.pa.gov/sfspOpens In A New Window or call 800-331-0129.