Pa. teachers’ union reacts to school COVID-19 testing plan

Written by on August 17, 2021

Pa. teachers’ union reacts to school COVID-19 testing plan

By Hayden Mitman

August 17, 2021

FILE – In this July 24, 2020 file photo, Fairfax County Public School buses are lined up at a maintenance facility in Lorton, Va. The Justice Department is highlighting a number of actions school officials should take to increase safety, including improving mental health resources, monitoring social media accounts and improving physical safety measures. The report was released Tuesday and was a culmination of a federal school safety working group. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pennsylvania’s largest teachers union, which represents nearly 200,000 teachers and school workers on Monday commended the Pennsylvania Department of Health after it announced a plan to bring free COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics to schools statewide. 

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Chris Lilienthal, assistant director of communications for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said that the effort to bring COVID testing and vaccine clinics to schools will help support the return of in-person learning.  

“This is a purely voluntary program, but it’s a really important program, because it allows schools to be able to take those extra steps,” Lilienthal said. “Our members are looking forward to going back to school. They want to make sure that everything is done in a safe way. But, really, they know that going back with the students, face to face, is going to be key going forward.”

There has been some division within its membership over calls to mandate masks in schools, Lilienthal said.

But even without a mandate, he said, the union still supports returning to in-person classes.  

“The vast majority of our educators are really looking forward to being back in the classrooms with students this year back in person,” he said. 

Educational institutions can request vaccine clinics from providers. 

Free COVID testing will be available for all students. 

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