Amid cases rising to record levels in Pennsylvania, on Monday, November 23, 2020, Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine issued orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. School districts in counties of substantial transmission rates must agree and sign a state certification that they are following the orders of Governor Wolf and Dr. Levine if they wish to continue to offer in-person instruction.
In counties with substantial transmission levels for at least two consecutive weeks, school districts must commit to safety measures to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.
By Monday, November 30, 2020, if a school district intends to continue in-person instruction, the school district, through its Chief School Administrator and Chair/President of its Governing Board, must attest, through their execution of the Attestation that they have:
1. Read the November 18, 2020, Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings, including necessary exceptions and associated guidance, and that the public-school entity is complying and will continue to comply with and enforce this order.
2. Read and must comply with the Recommendations for Pre-K to 12 Schools for when they identify and confirm a case(s) of COVID-19.
If a school district chooses not to sign the Attestation Form, the district must convert to a full remote instructional model and must suspend all extracurricular activities during any period that the county where the public school is located is in the substantial range of community transmission. Any in-person instruction, no matter how small or targeted the population of students are, may not occur until after the Attestation Form has been executed by the Chief School Administrator/CEO and the Chair/President of the governing board of the school district and returned to PDE.
As noted above, public school districts located in substantial transmission counties for at least two consecutive weeks as of November 23, 2020, must complete the following Attestation by November 30, 2020:
1. Complete the Attestation Form –
2. Have the Chief School Administrator and Chair/President of the governing board of the public school sign the form. This form may be signed electronically.
3. Submit the signed and competed for via email to RA-EDCONTINUITYOFED@pa.gov by 5:00 P.M. on November 30, 2020
4. Attach the signed and completed form to the school district’s Health and Safety Plan and post on the school’s publicly available website
Many Questions Have Been Posed Concerning These Orders
Q. Do school districts have any other choice but to follow the Attestation process or proceed to a remote learning environment?
A. No – the orders do not provide for any other alternatives. School districts must complete and submit the Attestation Form or convert to a remote learning model.
Q. What information should be provided to a Board Chair/President prior to executing the Attestation?
A. The Superintendent should certify to the Chair/Board President that the school district is complying with the November 18, 2020 face covering order and that they will comply with the updated recommendations.
Q. Does the School Board need to approve the Attestation?
A. The order does not require Board approval of the Attestation.
Q. Pursuant to the order, are there any penalties to be imposed for non-compliance?
A. On the face of the order, the only penalty conceivable is that a school district will need to convert to a remote learning model with no extracurricular activities.
Q. Is there any personal liability which may be imposed upon a Superintendent/Board President/Chair?
A. Absent a known false Attestation, the possibility of imposed personal liability is unlikely.
PDE has posted Frequently Asked Questions regarding the orders here.
If you have a question, please contact your legal counsel or one of the Education attorneys at KingSpry.
School Law Bullets are a publication of KingSpry’s Education Law Practice Group. This article is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.