(WTAJ) — While COVID-19 cases continue to rise, area schools are shifting back to remote learning
Acting Secretary Noe Ortega said it’s up to the school districts to decide if and when it should move to remote learning, but one of his biggest concerns was how the community would impact students staying in the classroom or learning from home.
“In person instruction is no way going to be replaced by remote or virtual options,” he said.
If you look at the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard, nine counties in Central PA are in the substantial level of community transmission: Bedford, Blair Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Elk, Huntingdon, Jefferson, and Somerset. The State Department of Education recommends schools in those areas move to remote learning for the safety of students, staff, and their families.
Secretary Ortega said virtual learning means making the most of the situation and using other resources to fill in the gaps.
“Schools don’t operate in a vacuum, and many of the things we see happening in our schools are in many cases a result of what’s happening in the community, as well,” he said.
Over the Winter Holiday break in just a few short weeks, Secretary Ortega said schools should regroup and find new strategies to make these learning models look more familiar to students during a time with many unknowns.
“It’s a really good time to step up efforts as we think about engaging in all of those other parts and then begin to move towards creating more safe conditions,” he said.
Both the Department of Health and Education are encouraging parents and students to download the COVID Alert PA app. Anyone age 13 and up can download the app. Those 13 to 17 years old do need permission from an adult to use it.