On March 1, Governor Wolf officially reduced COVID-19 mitigation efforts by rescinding travel restrictions and on April 4 increased indoor/outdoor occupancy limitations for events and gatherings to 25% and 50% respectively. Effective May 31, occupancy limitations will no longer be instituted, therefore allowing school districts to host events and gatherings, including school board members, with no cap on attendance. Furthermore, the Acting Secretaries of the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and of Health, Noe Ortega and Alison Beam, announced that the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Directing Public School Entities in Counties with Substantial Community Transmission to Attest to Health and Safety Protocols, which mandated the Attestation Process, will be lifted. As such, the matrix requiring school districts to close their buildings when a certain number of COVID-19 cases are identified within a rolling 14-day period, will revert to a recommendation and no longer be a mandate.
As we get closer to the end of the school year, school districts may now begin to plan for graduation ceremonies with the only required limitation being face-coverings. Of course, this forthcoming relaxation of mitigation efforts will not preclude school districts from continuing existing mitigating efforts or implementing stricter efforts if they so choose in order to ensure the health and safety of their students and employees. Lastly, while the Governor’s mitigation Orders will be rescinded, the Department of Health’s Health Advisories/Alerts will still be in effect; as such, school districts will still need to ensure accurate contact tracing protocols are in place to better ensure proper quarantine and isolation times of students and staff members are adhered to throughout the remainder of the school year.
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.