Governor Wolf Extends School Closures for Remainder of Academic Year
In consultation with PA Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and PA Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera, Gov. Tom Wolf Announced yesterday that all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year in continued statewide efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Students and families will still be able to pick up meals and food at designated sites.
The decision to close all public K-12 schools, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers and intermediate units and early learning program classrooms was made to ensure the health and safety of students, teachers and families.
Even though physical school buildings will be closed, efforts to continue instruction will continue. The Dept. of Education has secured resources to help all schools that want to use them – including those not currently offering online platforms, those requiring additional technology support, and those that may rely on traditional methods, such as paper lessons, to continue reaching and educating students. There is no cost to schools or students who utilize these resources.
Colleges and universities also may not resume in-person instruction or reopen their physical locations until the governor permits them to open or lifts the closure of non-life-sustaining businesses.
Under the state’s current directive, schools could begin summer programming on the day after their academic year ends, but Secretary Rivera said that all re-openings will be contingent on public health guidance provided by the Secretary of Health and stay-at-home orders issued by the governor.
The Dept. of Education has been providing ongoing guidance to school communities in the form of FAQs. The guidance information is available at education.pa.gov/COVID19.
Statewide Map Shows COVID-19 Testing Sites
The PA Dept. of Health added a statewide map that shows all available COVID-19 testing locations.
The department noted that certain sites may require preregistration or a doctor’s prescription before an individual can be tested. Please check with the site guidelines and your primary healthcare provider before going to a testing site.
All testing site locations can be found here.
Gov. Wolf Recommends All Pennsylvanians Wear Masks in Public
To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, Gov. Tom Wolf is now recommending that all Pennsylvanians wear masks when they leave their homes.
In order to protect resources needed by healthcare workers and other workers on the front lines, the governor recommends that people make homemade masks to protect themselves and others from spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus. Members of the general public don’t need a surgical mask, and all N95 masks should be reserved for frontline workers.
- Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies.
- While visiting your health care provider.
- Traveling on public transportation.
- Interacting with customers/clients at essential businesses.
- When feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing.
Best Practices for Homemade Masks:
- Consider buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places.
- Purchase masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for health care workers.
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- The mask should fit snugly around the mouth and nose.
- If the mask has a metal wire it should be fitted snuggly to the bridge of the nose.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it, if you do wash your hands with soap and water or
alcohol-based hand rub.
- Made out of two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric.
- Be discarded or washed after every use.
- Should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus.
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind, do not touch the front of mask.
- The wearer should immediately wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after
removing the mask.
Here’s how to make a mask at home.
- Fabric (100% cotton is most effective)
- Fabric Ties
- Sewing machine or a needle and thread
- Measure and cut two pieces of fabric in a rectangle pattern to fit snugly around the face (size
12 inches by 6 inches is standard for adults).
- Tightly sew both layers together on all edges.
- Cut fabric ties to fit around the ears.
- Sew the ties to the insides of the mask on the smaller edge, repeat on both sides.
- Resew the sides to ensure a tight seal between both pieces of fabric and the earpiece.
Check out this New York Times article for more tips on how to make your own homemade mask.
Local Tax Deadline has been Extended
Act 10 of 2020 has extended the deadline for the filing of 2019 local tax returns and payments to July 15, 2020.
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue does not administer local taxes, so additional questions should be directed to the taxpayer’s local taxing office.
Visit the Department of Community and Economic Development’s web page on Local Income Tax Collectors by Tax Collection District.
PA Dept of Revenue Online Alerts Available
Taxpayers and tax professionals are encouraged to visit the Department of Revenue’s COVID-19 information page on www.revenue.pa.gov for additional guidance and updates on department operations.
You can also visit the department's pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for real time updates.
The Dept. of Revenue’s call centers are currently closed due to the mitigation efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Taxpayers are encouraged to use the department’s Online Customer Service Center, available at revenue-pa.custhelp.com. You can use this resource to electronically submit a question to a department representative. The department representative will be able to respond through a secure, electronic process that is similar to receiving an email. The Online Customer Service Center includes thousands of answers to common tax-related questions.
Free tax forms and instructions are also available at www.revenue.pa.gov.
Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments is Now Available
A federal stimulus program passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now allows volunteer fire companies to apply for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Loans (PPP).
Qualifying volunteer organizations that pay firefighters can also access federal funds through the PPP program. Under this program, loans will be forgiven if employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the funds are used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.
EIDL loans can provide up to $2 million in working capital with emergency grants immediately available. An advance of $10,000 for volunteer fire companies organized as IRC 501 (c) (3) of IRC 501 (c) 4 can be accessed within three days of application. Organizations applying for funding will not be required to repay the funds, even if a loan application is ultimately rejected.
Additional information can be found here.
CVS Offering Home Delivery Services
In order to help customers stay safe and to limit contact employees have with customers, CVS has enabled a Free Home Delivery option for all of their stores, allowing customers to have their prescriptions and other everyday essentials delivered to their homes.
Visit cvs.com or call your local store.
Observing Religious Holidays During the Stay-at-Home Order
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for people of faith who are accustomed to gathering with their congregations in fellowship and worship. Stay-at-home orders across the country are helping to save lives, but they are also forcing people to avoid fellowship during some of the most important times of the year for people of all faiths.
As churches, synagogues, temples and mosques remain closed, religious leaders are working to connect to their communities in safe. Responsible ways that do not include gathering in person. Technology has proven useful for Palm Sunday and the beginning of Passover, and it is important for people to continue to use technology to observe Easter and Ramadan as well. Any in person gathering risk causing the exchange of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus.
Listen to this NPR feature with religious leaders who are dealing with the brunt of the pandemic and adapting their faith traditions to accommodate all COVID-19 safety measures.
Legal Aid for Area Residents
Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) offers free civil legal and are continuing to offer their legal services remotely during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
For civil legal assistance, call their Helpline at 1-877-429-5994 Mon.-Fri. from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or visit lasp.org/apply-here. (The office will be closed Fri., April 10, and will reopen Mon. April 13.)
Walk-in services are currently unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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