PAPSA, Coalition Send Letter to Senate in Opposition to HB 2169 (May 23, 2022)

On May 23, 2022, a joint opposition letter regarding HB 2169 was sent by the Pennsylvanians Against Vouchers (POV) Coalition to the full PA Senate. Also attached was the HB 2169 FAQ from POV.
PAPSA signed on to the letter, which can be accessed by clicking here.
To view the FAQs, click here.

The Senate Education Committee sunshined a May 24th committee meeting to consider HB 2169. However, HB 2169 was pulled from the meeting agenda prior to the meeting.

Previously, on April 27th the PA House passed HB 2169 with a vote of 104-98. This was an unprecedented vote, since voucher legislation had never before passed the PA House. The bill has been considered a tuition scholarship program that uses public funds to provide private school alternatives for students enrolled in the state’s lowest-performing public school districts. Known as the Lifeline Scholarship program, the bill would allow an enrollee to be eligible to use their share of state funding for use at a private school. The proposed bill defines an eligible student as a child who has not yet received a high-school diploma, currently resides in the attendance areas of a low-achieving school (the bottom 15% of public schools as measured by performance on standardized testing); and one of the following: attending a public in PA in the preceding school year; received funds from the program in the preceding school year; will attend first grade for the first time in the next school year; a child in foster care; a child whose adoption decree is not more than one year prior to submission of an application, OR a child of full-time active duty military personnel. Federal funding and school district tax monies would not be available for use.

Updated May 24, 2022.

Philadelphia SD Resumes Universal Masking in Schools, Offices, and School Vehicles (May 23, 2022)

Starting May 23rd, the Philadelphia School District resumed universal masking in schools and offices. According to a press release, ” To help protect everyone’s health and well-being as COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in the Philadelphia area, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has recommended that we resume universal mask wearing…until further notice, all School District students and staff will be required to wear their masks during the school and work day and while riding on school buses and vans. As we’ve learned since the pandemic began, the coronavirus continues to evolve and so too will our response to it.” 

To view the press release, click here.

Pfizer: Three doses of Vaccine 80% Effective for Those Under Five (May 23, 2022)

On May 23, 2022, a news release from Pfizer and BioNTech reported that preliminary findings from a clinical trial of children younger than five years-old showed that three doses of the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine produced a strong enough immune response — 80 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection in a subset of the 1,678 trial participants, who were six months through four years old — to meet the criteria for regulatory authorization.

To read more from the New York Times, click here.

L&I Employee Honored for Exemplary Leadership in Advocating for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing During Pandemic (May 23, 2022)

Governor Tom Wolf has honored Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) employee Melissa Hawkins with a Governor’s Award for Excellence in recognition of her work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate the delivery of critical, life-saving information to Pennsylvanians with disabilities through the services of certified deaf interpreters.

In her role as director of Pennsylvania’s Office for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (ODHH) within L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), Hawkins collaborated with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Health to bring critical information to Pennsylvanians who are deaf and hard of hearing to keep them informed of the latest information related to COVID-19.

At the start of the pandemic, to keep the deaf and hard of hearing community informed, Hawkins and ODHH teamed up with health officials to create educational videos in American Sign Language during the COVID-19 pandemic, including: “Coping and Mental Health Tactics,” “What is a Pandemic,” “How to Communicate with Your Children,” and many more developed by Commonwealth Media Services – ultimately empowering the deaf and hard of hearing community to make informed decisions for themselves and loved ones.

In 2020, ODHH created a COVID-19 Communication Card, geared toward Call Centers established as COVID-19 hotlines for individuals who needed information about vaccinations, hospitals, and Department of Health resources. As a result, the COVID-19 Communication Cards were used as a tool to help those answering the calls relay communication and health-related assistance to individuals during the pandemic. Hawkins also worked closely with L&I’s Unemployment Compensation office to implement assisted technology so people who are deaf or hard of hearing could apply for UC benefits.

For more information, visit the L&I website.

CDC Signs Off On COVID-19 Booster Shots for 5-11 Year-olds (May 20, 2022)

On May 19, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed off on booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children five to 11 years-old. Those children can now receive  booster shots at least five months after their second dose of the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC sign-off came two days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized booster shots for the 5-11 year-old age group.

Presently, mid-May 2022 data from the CDC shows 28.9% of children in this age group have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. In addition,  CDC data also shows upwards of 15,000 children ages 5 to 11 have been hospitalized and at least 189 of them have died.

A recent CDC report also revealed that nearly 75 percent of children 11-years-old and under showed evidence of an infection by February 2022, up from 44 percent in December 2021.

To view the CDC press release, click here.

Source: NBC News