Administrators say lack of ‘specific’ school reopening guidance from state is a problem

Jim Melwert
July 28, 2020 - 5:39 pm
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    WEST CHESTER, Pa. (KYW Newsradio)  School officials taking part in a workshop hosted by a Republican state lawmakers' committee say a lack of “specific” guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education is making a tough job all but impossible.

    West Chester Superintendent Jim Scanlon said among the many challenges and frustrations, school administrators are being asked to make public health decisions they’re not qualified to make without much help from the state and the Health Department.

    “Instead of clear guidelines from our top medical officials, we receive guidance that provides ‘considerations’ when opening schools,” Scanlon said. 

    For example, he points to keeping desks 6 feet apart “where feasible,” with no clarification of what feasible means.

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    “Since May 19, we’ve received six different sets of guidelines on how to open schools. School communities have been trying to discern the meanings of these guidelines and the discussions are literally fracturing our communities,” he added. 

    The guidance is conflicting, he said, and since the community is so split on in-person or virtual learning, a big chunk of people will be upset. 

    Scanlon said that conflicting guidance is used to attack the decision makers.

    The workshop at Bayard Rustin High School was hosted by the state Senate Majority Policy Committee and Sen. Tom Killion.

    Other concerns include staffing teachers and bus drivers especially if test results are taking a week to come back and how districts are expected to cover the high costs of protective equipment, cleaning, and additional staffing to reduce class sizes.