On March 1, 2021, Governor Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health, Alison Beam, issued identical Orders officially easing COVID-19 restrictions due to a decline in COVID-19 cases and an amplification in the Commonwealth’s vaccination plan. Effective immediately, school districts will see the following:
- Travel Restrictions: all travel restrictions by the Commonwealth have been rescinded. Moving forward, school districts will no longer need to require students and employees to certify that they have travel quarantined or produce a negative test result because they traveled outside of the Commonwealth.
- Maximum Occupancy Numbers: any event or gathering, is now subject to the following guidelines:
- Indoor Events/Gatherings: School districts may host no more than 15% of the maximum occupancy (to include the employees/people hosting the event/gathering) as long as all participants wear face coverings and are able to remain 6+ feet apart.
- Outdoor Events/Gatherings: School districts may host no more than 20% of the maximum occupancy (to include the employees/people hosting the event/gathering) as long as all participants wear face coverings and are able to remain 6+ feet apart.
- “Events or gatherings” are defined as “a temporary grouping of individuals for defined purposes, that takes place over a limited timeframe, such as hours or days.” This definition DOES NOT apply to educational instruction but does apply to school activities within and outside of the classroom that are not related to educational instruction, including, but not limited to, assemblies, school board meetings, staff meetings, and extracurricular activities. This means that in-person instruction in classrooms, breakfast/lunch in cafeterias, and transportation in buses are not subject to the 15%/20% maximum occupancy rules.
- The maximum occupancy regulations have never applied to breakfasts and lunches within the cafeterias. However, the Face Covering Orders, and the Attestation Guidance, have and still do apply to breakfasts and lunches within the cafeteria. While the maximum occupancy regulation does not limit the number of students/staff in the cafeteria for breakfasts and lunches to 15% of the maximum occupancy, the Face Covering Order and guidance still requires students to remain 6+ feet apart while eating in order to remove their face covering.
- School districts that have “fixed seating,” such as in theaters, are allowed to provide “reserved seating” to groups of not more than 10 people, with a recommendation that all 10 come from the same household, and to groups of 11+ where all 11+ are required to come from the same household.
The attorneys in Stock and Leader’s School Law Group continue to monitor updates regarding COVID-19. If you have any questions related to this update, please contact our School Law team.