Pennsylvania education secretary says learning will continue


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)– Governor Tom Wolf announced Thursday that all schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

Many districts have already started teaching students online, but Education Secretary Pedro Rivera wants to ensure students are learning new material, not just reviewing what they already know.

“While this was a critical step for us to take to protect as many people as possible, it was not an easy decision to make,” Wolf said.

Students in Pennsylvania won’t be in a classroom for the rest of the school year, but learning will continue.

“I set a really strong and high expectation that schools continue to provide educational opportunities for schools across the commonwealth,” Rivera said.

He says the Department of Education is requiring districts to submit their plans and post them online, which 300 school districts have already done.

“We are going to work to ensure that every student receives the opportunities and the resources that they need to graduate this year, so graduating seniors should not fear,” Rivera said.

For students to move on to the next grade, districts are working to identify how students have shown they are learning, possibly using third quarter grades or collecting portfolios.

“What we’re doing is setting the conditions so schools understand that the pandemic should not and will not be the factor in making that decision,” Rivera said.

$5 million in equity grants will be available for districts that don’t have resources to provide for their kids.

Rivera says the department is also working with districts where kids might not have access to technology or the internet.

“How can they get paper and pencil options to their students?” he asked. “Even through an amazing partnership with PBS, across the state, we’re offering television lessons at the different grade levels for students.”

More than 200 districts have signed up for an online platform available through the intermediate units free of charge.

Rivera says these continuity plans may be new, but they’ll be in place for years to come.

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