Governor closes schools in Philly suburb hit by virus

Gov. Tom Wolf provides an update on the coronavirus known as COVID-19 as Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, PEMA Director Randy Padfield, Pa. State Epidemiologist Dr. Sharon Watkins, Department of Health Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection Raphael (Ray) Barishansky, listen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Pennsylvania schools will be closed at least another week to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced Monday that all schools will be closed through at least April 6. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary, a release states. 

Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf announced all schools would be closed through March 27.

"When it’s determined that students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day," the release notes.

Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said his decision to close all schools for the additional period aligns with the governor’s stay-at-home directive announced today for seven counties: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

“Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers and all employees who work in our schools is paramount during this national health crisis and we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” he said. “The number of positive cases increases daily and we’re seeing it spread to more counties. We must adhere to the social distancing guidelines. Extending the closure will help every community in its efforts to mitigate the spread.”

Also today, Secretary Rivera cancelled standardized testing for students in career and technical education (CTE) programs for the 2019-20 school year. These include exams from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

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