**Related video above: Ohio changes mask orders due to CDC guidance.**
(WJW, WHTM) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday they recommend schools stick to implementing COVID-19 health guidelines through the end of this school year.
That means students and staff members should continue to wear masks and socially distance themselves from one another, the CDC said.
Pa. Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega responded Saturday: “We recommend school entities continue to follow their current mitigation strategies.”
The Pa. Depts. of Education and Health have been working together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to create the best environment for students and teachers. Back in March, teachers moved up to Phase 1A of the vaccine plan with the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the U.S.
The Pa. State Senate also passed a bill offering parents the opportunity to have their children repeat a grade level, to make up for lost learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents have until July 15 to make the decision.
“Students have spent a lot of time learning at home over the past year, so parents have played a larger role than ever in the education of their children,” Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman said. “Giving parents the option to provide an extra year of education for their children offers a pathway to help students who have suffered serious learning gaps during the pandemic.”
It is unknown when the mask mandate in Pa. schools will be lifted, as well as whether students age 12 and up will be required to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC said the decision to keep the guidelines going in schools is based on the fact that not all kids are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time and that schools still need time to change policies.
This recommendation comes as the CDC eased its mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people Thursday, saying there’s no need for them to continue wearing masks in most settings. The Pfizer vaccine has also been approved for those as young as 12 and is endorsed by health officials, including Pa. Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.