In This Update:
Educators & School Staff to Receive Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
Today, Governor Tom Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced that Pennsylvania will use initial supplies of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for PreK through 12th grade teachers and other school staff.
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last weekend authorized the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use. Pennsylvania will receive 94,600 doses this week. This ensures that current supplies of the Madera and Pfizer are not diverted away from those who currently qualify for Phase 1a of vaccine distribution.
To quickly get the vaccine into educators’ arms, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the departments of Education and Health are partnering with the 28 Intermediate Units (IUs) to establish vaccine sites. The Pennsylvania National Guard and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) will administer the vaccine
The initial priority is vaccinating school staff who have regular and sustained in-person contact with students during the regular school day, including teachers and staff providing pre-k and elementary instruction, special education, English learners and associated support because younger children are more susceptible to learning loss and their families are more likely to have childcare challenges.
More information can be found HERE.
Do Your Part and Make a Plan to get Vaccinated
While supply currently outpaces demand, the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania as a whole continues to receive increasingly larger shipments of vaccine every week. If you are having difficulties in scheduling an appointment, don’t be discouraged. As supply continues to grow, and new vaccines gain approval, everyone who wants a vaccine will receive one.
I encourage you to use this resources to learn more about the approved vaccines, their safety and efficacy and how to schedule your appointment.
Hearing Highlights Importance of Getting Students Back in the Classroom
A joint hearing of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday explored the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted students, families and educators. The message from teachers, parents, students, representatives of state agencies and other key stakeholders was clear – Pennsylvania students need to be back in the classroom as soon as possible to safeguard their educational development and mental health.
Testifiers explained the numerous ways that school shutdowns and current policies are hurting young people and families. The hearing also included discussion about meeting the needs of students with special needs, challenges associated with virtual learning and hybrid models, the need for consistency in state and federal guidance to school districts, concerns about standardized testing during COVID-19, and much more.
Funding Released to Support Struggling Restaurants, Hospitality Industry
The Senate approved legislation that was signed into law last month to provide $145 million to Pennsylvania restaurants and other employers in the hospitality industry that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Wolf’s mitigation orders. Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced last week that the funding has been distributed to counties, clearing the way for employers to begin applying for grants on March 15.
The grant program will be administered by local economic development organizations and/or community development financial institutions. More details on how to apply in each county will be available within the next two weeks.
PUC Urges Consumers to Explore Assistance Options
Consumers and businesses who are struggling with higher heating bills this winter are encouraged to explore assistance options before existing programs are changed or eliminated. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is urging individuals and employers to contact their utility company to learn about assistance programs that are available, including payment plans, late-payment fee waivers and other options to resolve overdue balances.
Consumers can also call PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services toll free at 1-800-692-7380 for more information.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Training Program Applications Due March 14
Pennsylvanians who are interested in a career as a Wildlife Conservation Officer can apply now through March 14 to be a part of the next training program, which begins this summer.
The training includes a 26-week basic training course for municipal police officers in Hershey, followed by an additional 26 weeks of training at the H.R. Stackhouse School of Fishery Conservation and Watercraft Safety in Bellefonte, Centre County.
New Resources Available for National Guard Members, Veterans and Job-Seekers
The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations will host three virtual job fairs in the coming months to help connect veterans and other job-seekers with employment opportunities in their area. The first event will be held on March 24 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., with additional events scheduled on May 26 and July 28. Interested individuals can register to participate here.
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) also recently announced a new online portal to help National Guard members and their families access education benefits, allowing applications for the Military Family Education Program and the Education Assistance Program to be completed online. More details on benefits are available on PHEAA’s website.
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