When schools in Pennsylvania reopen, face coverings will be mandatory, but the extent of in-person instruction in the state will be dependent on Covid-19 data, Health Secretary Rachel Levine and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said during a joint call on Thursday.
"There's no-one-size-fits-all approach to opening every school in the state," Rivera said.
While reopening plans are being developed on the municipal level, the state is set to release guidelines for reopening on Thursday. Those guidelines will include a heavy emphasis on face coverings, as well as guidance on hygiene, distancing, considerations for staff or students with chronic conditions, and the monitoring of potential Covid-19 symptoms, Levine said.
When asked if the state could overrule any municipal decision to reopen, neither Levine nor Rivera answered directly.
Levine said that the state would "do everything we need to do to protect the public health." Rivera said data would drive any future decisions.
Levine said that taking steps now to limit the spread of the disease would make for the safest environment in which to reopen schools in the fall.
"There are things that people can do right now to actually help our kids get back to the classroom," she said.
The state's guidelines include a requirement that parents screen students for symptoms at the start of each school day, open school bus windows when the weather allows, staggered class times, one-way hallway travel, and six feet of distance between students whenever possible.