NASISP & NAPSA Advocate Support for FY2022 Mental Health Workforce Shortages Funding (November 25, 2021)

As a result of collaborative efforts between NASISP, NAPSA, and a coalition of  other like-minded national organizations, a joint letter has been sent to urge the US Senate to move as quickly as possible to pass an FY2022 appropriations bill that helps address the severe shortages of school-based mental health professionals (school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers) and other specialized instructional support personnel. The letter urges the Senate to pass FY2022 Appropriations legislation that contains, at a minimum, $800 million for the School Based Mental Health Services Professionals and School Based Mental Health Services grants, combined, and at least $250 million for the IDEA personnel development grants.

PAPSA is an affiliate of NAPSA and many PAPSA members have taken a joint PAPSA-NAPSA membership at a discounted rate.

To view the letter, click here.

US House Passes BBBA; Universal Pre-K and Child Tax Credits Included (November 19, 2021)

On November 19, 2021, the US House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) in a close 220-213 vote. The 1.75 trillion bill is the cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s domestic social agenda, with programs covering education, healthcare, housing and the environment. For K-12 education, the bill includes funding for universal pre-K and an extension of child tax credits for another year.

The bill now moves on to the US Senate, however, remains uncertain.

For more from K-12 Dive, click here.

PA State Board Meeting Highlights Include Staff Shortage Concerns (November 18, 2021)

On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, the PA State Board of Education met via virtual means. During the meeting, Ed Sec Dr. Noe Ortega reported that schools are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic. He highlighted the shortages being felt in all staffing areas and stated that PennDOT and the PA School Bus Association have been collaborating with PDE to address the shortage of school bus drivers.

Sec Ortega also said that efforts continue to place COVID-19 mitigation strategies under increased local control. PDE is also endeavoring to measure the impact/effectiveness of ESSR monies, including the identification and sharing of best practices regarding the use of those funds. He also said that efforts regarding addressing the pandemic have resulted in students getting back to the classroom for in-person learning.

The Board and Sec Ortega also discussed the exiting of superintendents and other school leaders from the profession and expressed concerns regarding increased stressors being experienced by those in the field of education. Sec Ortega stated shortages in schools in all areas point out the need to get more people into the “pipeline” for achieving the necessary certifications to attain positions in the school setting.

The Board also heard presentations on Pennsylvania’s pass rates on elementary content teacher licensing tests; the Act 101 Program Report for 2020-21; a report from the College Textbook Policies Advisory Committee; and the annual report of the Professional Standards and Practices Committee. With regard to the latter, a summary of 2020 cases was provided;  it was reported that the state has amended the Code of Professional Conduct and Practices, which went into effect in May 2021; and a focus has been placed on electronic communications between staff and students.  With regard to the act 101 report, it was stated the CARES funding tripled the amount available for 2020-21.

To view the meeting agenda, click here.

The next State Board of Ed meeting will be held on January 12-13, 2022.

Judge Sets New End Date for School Mask Mandate (November 17, 2021)

In a follow-up opinion issued Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Commonwealth Court Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon ordered an end to the statewide mask mandate for schools effective December 4, 2021.

The judge’s order reversed a stay that was granted earlier. That stay, which kept the school masking mandate in place, was in effect as an appeal by Governor Wolf was to be heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

For more from PennLive/Patriot News, click here.

PA Ed Sec Ortega Visits Schools to Highlight In-person Learning and Promote Vaccinating Children (November 17, 2021)

Over the past two days, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega visited two PA schools. One was visited to feature an in-school vaccine clinic to promote vaccines for students and the other to highlight safe in-person learning throughout the commonwealth. Overall, the theme of the visits was the best way to keep students learning in the classroom is to protect against COVID-19 as well as to encourage all eligible Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, with a focus on the pediatric vaccine for younger students.  

“We know that to keep students learning in the classroom, we have to use all of the resources at our disposal to ensure that they stay healthy, and the COVID-19 vaccine is just one more tool in our toolbox,” said Sec. Ortega. “Keeping students safe against illness has wide-reaching impacts on our communities, and we appreciate the partnerships that Pennsylvania’s schools are forming with their local community organizations to provide access to parents on a voluntary basis.”  

It was noted that the PA Department of Health (PDH) is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable, and efficient across the commonwealth. Interested parties are advised to use Vaccine Finder to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near them. 

For more information on the above, visit and/or