Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Departments of Education (PDE) and Health (DOH) welcome Commonwealth students back to school, remind parents to make sure their children’s immunizations are up to date, and remind schools of news public health security initiatives.
“It is essential that everyone, especially children, are up to date with all recommended immunizations,” said Acting General Surgeon Dr Denise Johnson. “Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect you and your children from a number of serious and life-threatening illnesses. Getting the vaccine can help protect those around you, including people with weakened immune systems who cannot get the vaccine. If you have a child 12 or older, make sure they get the COVID-19 vaccine before you go back to school. “
Vaccinations are a necessary precaution to protect infants, children and adolescents from serious childhood illnesses such as measles, mumps and chickenpox. Keeping up to date with vaccines offers the best protection against disease and is essential to the health of individuals and the population. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very dangerous, may require hospitalization, and can even lead to death. Talking with your doctor or your child’s doctor can help determine which vaccines are needed.
Parents and guardians should schedule immunization appointments as early as possible. In recent years, a change in state regulations changed the provisional period during which students could attend school without their vaccines from eight months to five days. Children in Kindergarten to Grade 12 need the following vaccines to attend: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), hepatitis B and chickenpox. Vaccination requirements also extend to students of cyber schools and charter schools.
Children entering seventh grade also need additional immunizations with the conjugate vaccine against meningococcus (CVD) and tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap). If a child does not receive at least one dose of the above vaccines, he or she may be excluded from school.
In addition, the DOH and PDE continue to advise K-12 schools to follow current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)., to the extent possible, when creating and implementing mitigation policies and practices. A summary of the CDC’s educational orientation is available on the PDE website.
“The students and educators are excited to return to the classroom and start the new school year together. We are delighted for them and look forward to another academic year filled with opportunity, innovation and growth, ”said Education Secretary Dr Noe Ortega. “It is vital for our schools to continue to keep the health, safety and well-being of their communities at the forefront. PDE joins the Pennsylvania Department of Health in continuing to recommend that school communities follow current CDC guidelines. “
Schools should also take advantage of new public health safety initiatives. Last week, PDE and DOH announced two important initiatives to support K-12 schools in the 2021-22 school year. Schools outside of Philadelphia County can now sign up to receive free weekly COVID-19 tests to identify and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, schools can now ask COVID-19 vaccine providers to coordinate an immunization clinic for school employees, contractors, volunteers, students, or student families to add a layer of protection. against COVID-19.
The visit of Acting Doctor General Johnson and Education Secretary Ortega took place on the first day of school for the Mount Lebanon School District. Universal masking is required for all individuals, regardless of immunization status, while within the district.
“We know that face-to-face teaching is the strongest and most beneficial learning model for the vast majority of our students. The district’s goal for the 2021-22 school year is to maximize in-person learning and minimize disruption from COVID outbreaks and spread to the community, ”said Dr. Timothy J. Steinhauer, Superintendent of the Mount Lebanon School District. “We all share the responsibility of practicing and modeling behaviors that limit the spread of COVID-19 and promote overall health and well-being. We encourage families to remind students of the best practices for washing hands, managing coughs and sneezes, monitoring personal health, and staying home if you are not feeling well.
PDE continues to support Local Education Agencies (LEAs) as they prepare and navigate for the upcoming school year. This includes the latest chapter of PDE’s growing roadmap for education leaders; Accelerated learning thanks to an integrated support system. This toolkit includes information and resources to help address student learning issues and other issues caused by the pandemic.
Anyone wishing to visit a local immunization clinic for their immunization should call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) to make an appointment. Pennsylvanians should have their immunization records available when they call to make an appointment. A parent or legal guardian must accompany a vaccinated child.