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Franklin County schools will remain closed into April as state officials battle a spreading Coronavirus threat. The numbers of new cases of COVID-19 are rising rapidly across the state.

Schools around the state will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the Coronavirus response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of the disease.

Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said the school closure extension aligns with Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home directive announced today for seven counties – Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

Under the new timeline, school buildings reopen April 7 for two days to allow time to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students return to school April 9, unless extending the closure is necessary again to stop the virus’s spread.

The state’s 29 intermediate units will provide technical assistance to help school districts develop continuity of education plans for students.

Schools closed last week and the plan was to reopen March 30. But the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus causing COVID-19 infections since then prompted today’s extension of the shutdown.

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Closure Extension Necessary to Stop Virus Spread

“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.”

Rivera said the state’s 29 intermediate units are ready to provide technical assistance during the closure to help develop continuity of education plans for all students.

“We know students are eager to engage with their teachers and return to learning,” he said. “Beginning tomorrow, all schools will be able to work with their local intermediate unit to develop instructional plans for all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners.”

Rivera Also 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 the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

Last Thursday the department cancelled all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year. Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) Was also cancelled. The U.S. Department of Education approved Pennsylvania’s waiver request the following day.

“I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we navigate this unprecedented time together,” Rivera said. ”Thank you for your dedication to serving and supporting your school communities.”

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