The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) recently announced that going forward, it will strictly follow the guidance it receives for safely operating schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In turn, all public schools in Pennsylvania, including Bethel Park School District, are similarly required to follow CDC guidelines.
This change is significant because it represents a shift in some of the measures Bethel Park had taken in its schools since the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Most notably, it means that anyone who is unvaccinated, including all children under the age of 12, should now wear a face mask when inside district facilities, according to the CDC. However, it is important to note that the CDC guidance includes recommendations, not mandates. Accordingly, the District will make the wearing of masks indoors a recommendation, not a requirement, for those who remain unvaccinated.
Conversely, the CDC requires face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, when on public transportation, including school buses. Individuals are not required to wear masks when they are outside. Also, the District will continue to conduct contact tracing in the event that a positive case is reported to school district officials.
Previously, the PDE and its member schools used a hybrid approach of CDC, state, and local guidance. However, yesterday’s announcement should help eliminate any confusion as the PDE aligns its prevention and mitigation practices and policies with the CDC.