State to lift COVID-19 requirements on school closures, event limitations starting May 31

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

In line with a recent order by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Department of Education officials announced they will lift several COVID-19 requirements for schools starting May 31. 

The announcement came Tuesday, the same day the Wolf administration announced the state would lift all COVID-19 restrictions except its universal mask order as of May 31. The mask requirement won't be lifted until at least 70% of Pennsylvania residents 18 and older are fully vaccinated, officials said. 

More:Pennsylvania lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Memorial Day

The lifted requirements mean York County schools will not be required to temporarily close school buildings when a certain number of COVID-19 cases are linked to a building within a 14-day window.

Limitations on public gatherings will also be lifted, which will likely have an impact on upcoming graduation ceremonies.

The requirements will still remain as recommendations after they are lifted. 

In November, all York County school districts signed an attestation form, agreeing to comply with several COVID-19 recommendations in order to keep schools open while the county was classified as having substantial spread of the coronavirus. Since then, the state has relaxed its guidance for when and how long school buildings must close, but it has remained a requirement for York County districts, as the county has never moved out of the substantial spread category. 

More:All York County school districts signed Wolf's form to stay open

More:Pa. Department of Education updates guidance to allow more in-person learning

Several local districts have not followed the requirement to the letter since signing the form and have allowed schools to remain open even after the buildings recorded enough COVID-19 cases to warrant a temporary closure. In many such cases, district officials said they were advised by state health representatives not to close their schools based on the circumstances of the reported cases. 

Kendall Alexander, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said in an email that complaints about school districts not complying with the attestation form are "handled on a case-by-case basis," and at minimum Department of Education staff will discuss the complaints with officials from the school district. She did not mention a maximum measure the department would need to reach to enforce the policy. 

More:COVID-19 tracking varies widely among York County schools