PA Health Department looking to local data for school guidance

Reopening plans for schools will look different based on local data

HARRISBURG – While some states, like New York, have announced data-driven guidance for reopening schools based on a data point like infection rates, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, says she has some concerns with having one specific metric, “It doesn’t take into consideration different things that might be involved in a county. So you might have a rural county that has increases due to a farm with migrant workers, with no children there. That probably doesn’t need to influence if schools are open, but it will certainly increase their case counts and it will increase their percent positivity.”

Dr. Levine says counties and communities are unique and the reopening decisions will be determined by local data and what works best for that particular school district, “New cases in a county or an area. We look at the cases per capita, that’s the incidents rate. We look at percent positivity. We do deep dives into these counties and look and see, is this a specific outbreak? Maybe on a farm, maybe in a prison, maybe in a nursing home. Is that going to influence the kids?”

She says they will continue to review that data and work with each superintendent to make the best decision for their area.

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