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House Education Committee Hears Concerns About Reopening School

By: Nicole Ford

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - Reopening schools is the hot topic of discussion in Harrisburg this week. On Tuesday morning, the House Education Committee heard from two panels about concerns heading into the fall.

"We are concerned about cleaning supplies, where can we get them and do we have the funds to purchase them, not just to open the schools this fall, but to keep them clean throughout the year?" said Donna Westbrooks-Martin with Alliance of Approved Private Schools.

Leaders like Westbrooks-Martin are working to tackle the extra costs while balancing parental concerns.

Many lawmakers questioned childcare options when it comes to all virtual or hybrid models. Representative Patty Kim said creativity, like developing emergency classrooms, could be a solution.

"Elementary schools and churches are stepping up. Their fellowship halls are empty during the day so we have people with cleared background checks, maybe retired teachers, being there to help them with online learning not the whole day, but the most part of the day," Kim said.


Meanwhile other lawmakers want to know why there is so much concern when data has shown children are less vulnerable to the virus.

"There is concern of children catching it from asymptomatic spread at school and bringing it home to vulnerable parents or grandparents, and if their caretakers aren't well, then the child themselves isn't well," said Lori Kelley, who is a school nurse at Allegheny School District.

The hearings will start back up on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The main focus will be possible legislation needed by the General Assembly that could ease the districts' concerns as they start to reopen.

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