Schools Must Look to Help Students to Process Grief (May 24, 2020)

Grief can be precipitated by many circumstances, take many forms, and have varied effects. Our students are currently experiencing loss on many levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the death of loved ones, lifestyle changes, family financial strains and more. Schools must not only be cognizant of students needs in this regard, but must take steps to help students to process grief.

For more information on how schools can help students to process grief, click here.

Please also view the upcoming June PAPSA Newsletter to see how New York Life and PAPSA are teaming up to help schools to help grieving students.

CHOP Makes Safety Recommendations for Re-opening Schools (May 22, 2020)

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has provided recommendations for preparing for schools to reopen. CHOP is one of the largest and oldest children’s hospitals in the world, and is the United States’ first hospital dedicated to the healthcare of children. It has been ranked as the best children’s hospital in the United States.

Here is a sampling of CHOP’s safety recommendations:

  • Start the school year earlier in case the virus reemerges in the winter
  • Reduce class sizes to 10 or 15 students to help with social distancing
  • Hold classes in gyms, large multi-purpose rooms, or outdoors
  • Open windows for ventilation
  • Provide adults with protective face shields
  • Create staggered schedules and have students attend in-person or online depending on the day of the week or cycle
  • Conduct regular temperature checks and other types of symptom surveillance to help ensure that sick students stay home

A confounding factor is that officials involved will need to make decisions regarding how to reopen schools without having a clear understanding of how COVID-19 spreads in the school setting and how it affects children as well as adults. Further, although the recommendations made are largely designed to protect adults from contracting the coronavirus and to mitigate the spread of the disease, there is still uncertainty as to how children’s health may be affected as scientists scramble to understand a mysterious inflammatory syndrome linked to the coronavirus that appears to have resulted in serious illness and death to some school-aged children.

Most importantly, scientists believe that testing capacity is crucial, but the ability to create widespread testing could be compromised in parts of the state where medical infrastructure is less accessible.

For more information, please click here.

PDE Releases Guidance on Keystone Exams (May 21, 2020)

The PA Department of Education (PDE) has released guidance on the use of Keystone Exams related to the context of the current 2019-20 school year, federal assessment and accountability requirements, ESSA report card provisions, graduation requirements and moving into the 2020-21 school year. The guidance was released to address the various impacts related to the cancellation of this spring’s administration of Keystone Exams.
The guidance also addresses upcoming Keystone testing windows. The summer Keystone Exam window will be delayed until September 28 through October 2, 2020 to accommodate schools in planning for make-up exams. Students affected by the cancellation of the exams during spring 2020 may choose to make-up one or more Keystone Exams in the delayed summer window, the winter testing window (December 1, 2020 through January 15, 2021), or the spring testing window (May 17-28, 2021). 

Click here to access PDE guidance on Keystone Exams

Click here to access PDE guidance on the Future Ready PA Index (Fall 2020)

CDC Releases Document that Includes Return to School Guidance (May 21, 2020)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a document titled CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again. Appendix F of the document (from pages 40-52) is of particular interest to schools and childcare providers.

To access the document on the PAPSA website, click here or go to:

PDE Provides LEAs with CDTs for Student Use at Home (May 18, 2020)

On May 18, 2020, PDE Deputy Secretary Matt Stem notified LEAs via a PennLink titled Availability of the Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) for use by students at home that PDE is providing the Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) as an optional additional resource for their Continuity of Education Plan.  The CDT is a set of online tools designed to provide diagnostic information to guide instruction and provide support to students and teachers. It is aligned with the content assessed on the PSSA and Keystone exams.  PDE anticipates that this option will be available through the reopening of schools in 2020. The memo states that this at-home testing option will allow students to access the CDT from a “public” browser without having it installed on their computers or being configured to their school district’s central office services network. The test-setup tasks that teachers/school assessment coordinators routinely complete for classroom administrations of the CDT are the same for the at-home administrations. Test tickets (login credentials) will be distributed directly to the students by school staff.  Teachers will have access to all CDT data/reports from the at-home administrations as usual.  An overview of the at-home testing option and a guidance document for parents/guardians can be accessed from the following links (or directly from DRC’s INSIGHT Portal under General Information >> Documents >> 2019-2020 Classroom Diagnostic Tools >> Memos/Documents).

At-Home Testing Overview:

Parent/Guardian Guidance:

All CDTs (Full and Diagnostic Category) are available for use.  However, it is highly recommended to only have students take the Diagnostic Category CDTs at this time. Students and their parents/guardians may benefit from a much shorter testing experience using the Diagnostic Category CDTs that are aligned to current instructional content. The shorter, more focused testing will still provide teachers and administrators with the same level of reporting and resources to adjust instruction and planning during distance learning.Those interested in using CDT for the first time, contact PDE at