Schools, Colleges in Pa. Will Soon Be Able to Resume In-Person Instruction, On Campus Activities
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced that schools located in "yellow" and "green" phase counties can reopen for in-person instruction and other school activities beginning July 1.

The announcement on Wednesday, given by Education Sec. Pedro Rivera, was accompanied by preliminary guidance developed by the department. Rivera said the department sought feedback from educators, lawmakers and students when creating the preliminary guidelines for reopening. He added that the state wants to provide flexibility for school officials to develop plans around the specific needs of their students. Rivera said that may include allowing schools to adopt "hybrid models" or resuming remote instruction if instances of the novel coronavirus spike in the fall.

Specifically, the guidance issued by the department requires school boards in "green" and "yellow" phase counties to adopt health and safety protocols that meet federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state Health Department guidelines. In developing these safety plans, schools must consult and work with local health agencies, and the plan has to be submitted to the Department of Education. In addition, schools will be required to identify a pandemic coordinator, issue hygiene guidelines, address facility cleaning, and limit large gatherings, as well as issue protocols on the use of face masks and encourage social distancing.

For more than 300 colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions in Pennsylvania, campuses can reopen on Friday, June 5th. In-person classes and activities can resume, but only with health and safety plans in place. This includes adhering to social distancing guidelines, and federal and state standards for testing. Guidelines issued for colleges and universities include a phased return to campus, as well as earlier start and finish dates for the academic year.

The Department of Education said the new reopening guidelines for schools throughout the state do not apply to private schools, although they are encouraging all schools to follow the state's recommendations.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf extended the state's emergency disaster declaration, set to expire on June 4, for the state's response and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor said the emergency disaster declaration provides for increased support to state agencies involved in the continued response to the virus and recovery for the state during reopening. But Gov. Wolf said he will allow the state's stay-at-home order to expire on June 4, which was only in effect for counties in the "red" phase of his reopening plan.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 511 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide on Wednesday, bringing the state total to 73,405. In addition, 5,742 Pennsylvanians have died from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 409,000 negative cases across the state.

Daily COVID-19 update for Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health reported 36,792 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 2,299 deaths, including probable cases, by Wednesday afternoon. There have been 6,251 hospitalizations and 1,604 ICU admissions.
Other News...
Pa's primary election relatively smooth amid pandemic, protests. Tuesday's primary election in Pennsylvania had limited issues, according to election officials across the Commonwealth. The election was the first true test of Pennsylvania's ability to host an election under significantly different rules and during a global pandemic that saw polling places consolidated, an increase of inexperienced poll workers and a record-high number of mail-in ballots. Some of the races may not be "official" until all mail-in ballots are counted, which could take several days. For more information and to see results so far, visit

Renewed push by Pa. Democratic legislators to reform police practices. With the death of George Floyd, a black man from Minnesota who died while being detained by Minneapolis police, some Pennsylvania legislators are renewing calls to address police policies in the Commonwealth, including reforms to the state’s deadly force law, transparency in police disciplinary records, and greater police oversight. In addition, on Tuesday, a group of state House Democrats and local Philadelphia lawmakers proposed dozens of reforms regarding police training, discipline, and oversight they believe are within the authority of the governor's office.

Pa. Turnpike Commission lays off 500 employees. With revenue down more than 50 percent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Turnpike announced this week it will lay off 500 employees and move to a cashless tolling system. The commission had planned to switch to cashless tolling over the next few years, but the stay-at-home orders and statewide shutdown put in place in March forced the agency to cease cash collections and switch cash systems to the toll-by-plate program.

DHS provides additional guidance for child care as counties continue to reopen. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services issued additional guidance on Tuesday to help families as day care and child care facilities reopen across the state . As more counties transition into the "yellow" and "green" reopening phases, the agency is hoping to provide as much information to caregivers as possible . Workers who need child care in counties in the "yellow" or "green" phases can find options here: .
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations and nonprofit consulting assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) .

You can also visit the McNees COVID-19 Article & Resource Page for more information on various legal and political issues created by the novel coronavirus.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit .

The Senate stands in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore.

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The House stands adjourned until Monday, June 8, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.

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