HARRISBURG – While recognizing the rationale behind the governor’s decision to temporarily close all of Pennsylvania’s schools and universities to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) issued the following statement reminding the education community of the responsibility to teach Pennsylvania’s students, and that learning should not stop during the two-week, possibly more, school closure ordered by the governor.
“School district administrators and teachers have to still teach our children as we move forward through this unprecedented health care crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak.
“A local superintendent insisted that we can meet this challenge, proclaiming that the education of our students can remain strong during this crisis. As one of our local school board members said to me, the governor closed school buildings, but not the education of our children.
“Each school district needs a plan for remote teaching – approved and monitored by the local IU. A straight-forward approach can protect employees, yet still meet the responsibility of educating our children.
“Whether by phone, tablet or computer, most kids today have the ability to access online materials. For those who don’t, a district would have to make hard copy material available in packets for pick up or by mail, depending on the district. Any school district with cyber capability should utilize this capacity.
· Teachers need to cover fundamentals first – reading, writing, math and science.
· In the case of students with special needs, teachers and staff members can work as a team with each family to find innovative ways to provide an educational program.
· Aides can call through to families daily, asking parent and students what they need.
· We should eliminate PSSA and Keystone requirements for this year.
· Districts should deep clean school buildings while children are away.
· Food delivery to children from food insecure families should be established. Districts should make arrangements with existing school food suppliers to deliver to those families on a daily basis.
“Protecting the health and safety of our children is paramount, just as it is for ALL Pennsylvanians, but that should not mean the state abdicates its responsibility of providing an education during this crisis.
“The fact is, under any circumstance, schools should be focused on doing what is best for kids.”
Speaker of the House Mike Turzai
Pennsylvania House of Representatives