Pa. officials to lift telework mandate; working from home still encouraged

(Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

(Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

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As Pennsylvania continues to make stride in vaccinating its residents, state officials are allowing some businesses to return to some sort of normal.

Pennsylvania on Sunday will lift the mandate for many businesses to telework, but they are still “highly encouraged” to keep up the practice.

In-person businesses may operate at 75% occupancy, and must follow all worker and building safety requirements for employers.

Businesses are still required to comply with the masking, physical distancing, and other safety measures.

Gov. Wolf celebrates teacher vaccination effort

Shortly after the federal government approved the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use, Gov. Tom Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced a special initiative to provide a voluntary opportunity for Pre-K to 12 educators and school staff to be vaccinated.

The Wolf administration and the task force celebrated Friday an early success with more than 112,500 teachers and school staff vaccinated in about three weeks. The achievement allows more teachers and students to return to the classroom.

“This is a great success, and I am so proud of everyone who made it happen,” Wolf said. “We know that teachers and students want to be back in the classroom where students can learn, laugh, and grow with their friends.”

The administration partnered with the state’s 28 intermediate units to quickly establish vaccine clinics and reach out to teachers and staff through school districts to schedule appointments.

“In less than one month, communities across Pennsylvania collaborated around the clock to vaccinate thousands of teachers and school staff; a truly remarkable and heroic effort,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “We are now closer than ever to a safe, full return to in-person teaching and learning.”

The Pennsylvania National Guard and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare coordinated hundreds of healthcare professionals at the vaccine clinics across the state to vaccinate educators. Many of the clinics were held on evenings and weekends so students could continue uninterrupted learning during the school day.

“Pennsylvania school employees have gone above and beyond over the past year to help students keep learning,” said Wolf. “And this was just part of that.”

Pennsylvania ranks fifth among all 50 states for total doses. State officials report more than 5.4 million vaccinations administered to date. The statewide total of COVID-19 cases is over 1 million, with more than 25,000 deaths.

Last Monday, Wolf announced K to 12 schools is expected to receive nearly $5 billion in federal funds to support classroom learning and expand opportunity for students who need it most. Part of the funding will address learning loss and the social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students.

“That can be used in a variety of ways,” said Wolf. “That’s going to be a welcome thing.”

On Wednesday, the departments of Health and Education updated recommendations on social distancing in schools to provide for three feet in many instances, which aligns with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, and the handling of COVID-19 cases in schools to reduce the number of days for school closures. The recommendations take effect Monday.

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