New COVID mitigation efforts for schools

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The latest fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 falls in the hands of students. The state Departments of Health and Education are issuing new COVID mitigation efforts. They’re hoping more young people will take an active role.

State officials announced the COVID alert PA app is now available to anyone 13 and older. Previously it was only available to those 18 and older.

“We are here to issue a call to students across the Commonwealth with parental consent of course to please download the COVID alert PA app,” said Acting PA Secretary of Education Noe Ortega.

622,000 people have downloaded the free app so far, which alerts you about potential exposure to the virus. The hope is that by expanding the age range, there will be more downloads, increasing the app’s effectiveness. At the end of last week, every county in Pennsylvania, except Cameron, was at the highest level of COVID transmission, categorized as substantial.

“Within that level of transmission we do recommend that schools consider moving to remote learning. In fact, that’s what we’re asking them to do at the moment,” said Ortega.

Bermudian Springs in Adams County is one of many school districts, using a hybrid learning model.

“All teachers provide weekly support for students, at guided reading and guided math groups. We’ve developed a remote day support team at Bermudian Springs Middle School that provides immediate virtual support from an adult to any student,” said Dr. Shane Hotchkiss, Bermudian Springs School District Superintendent.

If a school district chooses not to move to remote learning.

“They agree to double down through this attestation form to adhere to the mitigation strategy as it relates to face coverings and then on top of that, to make sure that they monitor local levels of transmission that happen at their schools,” said Ortega.

There have been close to 28,000 total cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds since the outbreak began. More than 4,200 of those came just last week. That’s up 275 from the week before.

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