On August 8, 2018, Director Lee Burkett from PDE’s Bureau of Career and Technical Education sent a memo to All LEAs, Superintendents, IU Executive Directors, and Act 48/45 Providers which furnished information titled Frequently Asked Questions: Statewide High School Graduation Requirement for Career and Technical Education Concentrators. To obtain a copy of this information, please visit the PAPSA website at www.papsa-web.org and go to the heading “Resources” and its drop-down “Downloads”.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as a result of surveying school districts across the country, has determined that many of those school districts are not adequately prepared to respond to natural disasters, especially an influenza pandemic or other type of infectious disease outbreak. In fact, more than 20 percent of US school districts still need to develop plans for responding to natural disasters and only 65 percent have policies for responding to an influenza pandemic or other infectious disease outbreak.
Further, nearly 75 percent of US school districts have plans in place to reunite students with their families during an emergency and nearly 80 percent are prepared to help students and staff with special needs during an emergency and to provide mental health services afterward.
Last month, Senate Bill 1078 was signed into law and was added to the PA School Code. The new law allows school boards to discuss certain security measures as a group in executive session without fear of breaking the law. Although it does not give school boards unrestricted discretion to discuss all safety and security-related issues during an executive session, it does permit discussion in executive session where a public discussion regarding school safety measures would be reasonably likely to impair the effectiveness of measures to be taken and/or would likely jeopardize the school and/or an individual’s safety. The opportunity to discuss such topics in executive session will allow for information sharing between administration and the school board without compromising confidential information.
Governor Tom Wolf has chosen Charles Ramsey, the Chairman of the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, to assume leadership of the newly formed state School Safety and Security Committee, which is tasked to identify ways to help protect teachers and students in the school environment. It will also distribute $60 million in grants to school districts and other school entities which can help fund such things as security equipment, staff training, and facility improvements. The committee will also set standards for assessing the safety and security of school buildings, staff training, and help for students with behavioral health needs. It will also develop and conduct a survey to measure safety and security readiness.
On July 12th, the AASA, The School Superintendents Association, released a toolkit for proactive best practices before, during, and after a crisis. It is titled “School Safety & Crisis Planning” and includes a 24-hour hotline managed by Joseph Erardi, former superintendent of Newtown Public Schools. Resources were also contributed by the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National School Boards Association, and the National School Public Relations Association.
As part of the toolkit, CrisisGo, an AASA School Solutions partner, is offering an emergency planning and communications platform to AASA members at no cost. The “AASA Safe Classroom” app allows school safety leaders to send audible emergency alerts and enable two-way communications to every computer and mobile device in the school.