HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania -- Elementary and secondary schools inside Pennsylvania's less restrictive reopening zones can resume teaching in person and other activities beginning July 1, the Education Department said Wednesday.
The guidance issued by the department says school boards in the green and yellow zones under the stoplight-colored reopening system must first adopt health and safety procedures that meet federal and state guidelines.
The more than 300 colleges and other post-secondary institutions can restart on Friday if they have a plan to keep students and teachers safe, the agency announced.
The reopening details follow a spring in which buildings were closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, sending students home for distance learning to complete the school year, and more recently virtual graduation ceremonies. Signs the pandemic is easing have prompted officials to implement gradual reopening of many functions.
"We fully expect students to return to classrooms in some capacity," said Education Secretary Pedro Rivera in a news release, describing the guidance as helping schools establish "a framework that best meets the unique needs of their students and communities."
Rivera planned to answer questions about schools reopening during a virtual press conference later Wednesday, and his department said more information will be provided in the coming weeks about how schools can safely operate.
K-12 schools that want to start teaching students in person will have to develop plans that are tailored to each school's particular conditions. Local health agencies must be consulted, and the plan must be submitted to the state Education Department.
Schools will have to identify a pandemic coordinator, ensure those at higher risk of infection are protected, monitor for symptoms, limit large gatherings, issue hygiene guidelines and address cleaning, face masks, social distancing.
The requirements do not apply to private schools, although officials are encouraging them to follow suit.
Colleges, universities, trade schools and other post-secondary institutions in the yellow or green zones can restart in-person instruction. The Education Department said those institutions must adhere to social-distancing guidelines and the federal and state standards for testing, as well as to mitigate and contain the spread of infection.
The recommendations for colleges and similar institutions include a phased return to campus, as well as earlier start and finish dates for the academic year.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed as of 12 a.m., June 3, that there are 511 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 73,405. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.
There are 5,742 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 75 new deaths.
"As Pennsylvania continues to move forward in the process to reopen, we need to remember that the threat from COVID-19 has not gone away," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. "As counties move into the yellow and green phases, we must take personal responsibility to protect others. Wearing a mask, continuing to maintain social distancing, and washing your hands frequently are all steps we can take to help protect others, including our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our essential workers and our healthcare system."
There are 617 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases. There are 408,269 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:
Nearly 1% are ages 0-4;
Nearly 1% are ages 5-12;
Nearly 2% are ages 13-18;
6% are ages 19-24;
Nearly 37% are ages 25-49;
25% are ages 50-64; and
28% are ages 65 or older.
Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.
In nursing and personal care homes, there are 15,752 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,719 cases among employees, for a total of 18,471 at 611 distinct facilities in 44 counties. Out of the total deaths, 3,621 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.
Approximately 5,557 of the total cases are in health care workers.
Schools in Pa.'s yellow, green zones can reopen for in-person teaching on July 1: Officials