Harrisburg, PA – The House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie), will host a two-day public hearing this week to discuss safely reopening schools this fall.
The hearings will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and Wednesday, Aug. 5. Tuesday’s hearing will be a continuation of a previous hearing the committee held in June where teachers, administrators and directors from public and nonpublic schools discussed their plans and concerns for getting students back to the classroom in the fall. Wednesday’s hearing will focus on stakeholders recommended legislation to the committee designed to ensure better flexibility as school administrations navigate and adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the American Academy of Pediatrics has said, our school policies must be guided by what is best for the children, their health and well-being. So, getting our students back in the classroom this fall is a top priority,” Sonney said. “Across the board there has been a lack of communication, direction and transparency from the Wolf administration on how our schools should reopen.
“These hearings will help the public, and us as legislators, gain better insight on the concerns and struggles our schools are currently facing and help create better policy to ensure our students’ educational needs are met,” continued Sonney. “We are running out of time; we need answers and solutions. We must prioritize our students – we cannot let them fall through the cracks.”
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) also noted the importance of getting students back in the classroom this fall and the lack of clear direction from the administration.
“As the first day of school approaches, it is important that we give both parents and students predictability and confidence that there is a plan to reopen schools safely,” said Benninghoff. “As we continue to learn to live with COVID-19, students should not be deprived of the choice of having important in-classroom instruction and parents should not be forced to make the difficult choice between earning a living and being full-time, in-home educators. Unfortunately, the administration has come up short on answers and school leaders are calling for firm direction and not loose guidelines. I hope these hearings will help show the problems facing those trying to reopen schools without a concrete plan and highlight areas where more direction is needed. From there, it is our hope that the Wolf administration will see this as an opportunity to work with the people’s representatives to develop a well-thought-out plan to open schools safely for the benefit of educators, parents and our children.”
The hearings will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and Wednesday, Aug. 5, in the House Majority Caucus Room, Room 140, Main Capitol.
Those invited to testify during Tuesday’s hearing include members of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, Alliance of Approved Private Schools, PA Cyber Charter School, Agora Cyber Charter School, the ARC of PA and the Association of School Nurses and Practitioners.
Wednesday’s panel of testifiers will include representatives invited from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and PA State Education Association (PSEA).