December 17, 2020

COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan for Pennsylvania

On December 11, 2020, the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and Pennsylvania Department of Health released a COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan for Pennsylvania (PDF). The goal of the interim COVID-19 vaccination plan is to provide a transparent strategy to vaccinate all Pennsylvanians who want to be vaccinated so that Pennsylvanians can return to everyday activities as quickly and safely as possible.

At this time, early childhood education professionals including teachers, school staff working directly with students, child care employees, and early intervention staff fall under the 1B category (page 14), defined as essential business personnel who cannot work remotely or maintain social distancing.

A variety of factors influence the distribution of vaccinations, including vaccine supply levels, number of critical personnel requiring the vaccine, and vaccine storage requirements. The vaccine supply is projected to increase quickly over the proceeding months, allowing vaccination efforts to be expanded to additional critical populations and the general public. It is important to note that recommendations on the various population groups to receive initial doses of the vaccine could change after the vaccine is available, depending on each vaccine’s characteristics, vaccine supply, disease epidemiology, and local community factors. The Pennsylvania Department of Health will follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) ACIP recommendations in identifying populations of focus.

More Resources for COVID-19

To best support these community members and the young children in their lives, Trying Together has created two resource lists, featuring helpful resources that families and educators can use to maneuver this difficult time.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Allegheny County Health DepartmentWorld Health Organization (WHO), or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.


December 11, 2020

New Mitigation Efforts To Take Effect 12/12

On December 10, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine introduced temporary protective mitigation measures that will take effect in Pennsylvania on December 12 at 12:01 a.m.


Temporary mitigation measures will take effect on December 12, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., and remain in effect until 8 a.m. on January 4, 2021. These mitigation efforts were put into place to:

    • stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth,
    • keep Pennsylvania hospitals and health care workers from being overwhelmed, and
    • help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season – and closer to a widely available vaccine – as safely as possible.

These efforts do not apply to educational instruction but do apply to school activities within and outside of the classroom that are not related to educational instruction, including, but not limited to, assemblies, school board meetings, staff meetings, and extracurricular activities. View the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information on school operations.

Limited-Time Mitigation Measures

Capacity Limits for Businesses
    • All in-person businesses serving the public may only operate at up to 50 percent of the maximum capacity stated on the applicable certificate of occupancy, except as limited by existing orders to a smaller capacity limit.
Indoor Gatherings and Events
    • Indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 persons are prohibited.
    • Groups of people who share space within a building in the ordinary course of operations, such as in an office building, classroom, licensed child care, and non-licensed school-age programs, production floor, or similar regularly occurring operation of a business or organization, are NOT classified as events or gatherings.
    • Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of congregate worship are specifically excluded from the limitations set forth on indoor gatherings during religious services. However, these institutions are strongly encouraged to find alternative methods for worship, as in-person gatherings pose a significant risk to participants at this time.
Outdoor Gatherings and Events
    • Outdoor gatherings and events of more than 50 persons are prohibited.
In-Person Extracurricular School Activities
    • Voluntary activities sponsored or approved by a school entity’s governing body or administration are suspended, but these extracurricular activities may be held virtually. This includes, but is not limited to, attendance at or participation in activities such as musical ensembles, school plays, student council, clubs, and school dances.
K-12 School Sports and Youth Sports
    • All sports at K-12 public schools, nonpublic schools, private schools and clubs, travel, recreational, intermural, and intramural sports are paused.
In-Person Dining and Alcohol Sales
    • All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events are prohibited.
    • Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales are permitted and may continue, subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law, or this or any other Order issued by the Secretary of Health or by the Governor.

More Information

To view the full list of mitigation efforts, read the full press release. Answers to frequently asked questions are also available.


December 9, 2020

Updated Quarantine Recommendations in Pennsylvania

On December 4, the Pennsylvania Department of Health updated their quarantine recommendations for individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19. These recommendations have been updated in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidelines that include options to reduce the quarantine period. These recommendations are subject to change.



Important Note

This guidance does not apply to healthcare or congregate settings. Patients and residents in healthcare settings who have been exposed to COVID-19 should be treated as per healthcare guidance outlined in PA-HAN-526 or its successor. Staff working in a healthcare setting who are exposed to COVID-19 should follow guidance outlined in PA-HAN-510 or its successor.

See page three of this document for more information.


Quarantine is used to separate someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. While individuals in quarantine may or may not develop illness, quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they have the virus. Any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden to the individual under quarantine against a small possibility of increasing the spread of the virus.

While a shortened quarantine period may increase the public’s willingness to adhere to public health recommendations, the overall reduction in transmission and increased compliance will require evaluation; not only in terms of compliance with quarantine and contact tracing activities, but also for any potential negative impacts such as post-quarantine transmission. The most protective recommended quarantine period remains at 14 days post exposure.

How Does Quarantine Work?

Quarantine begins one day after a person has been last exposed to someone with COVID-19 who is infectious. For individuals with COVID-19 who are unable to isolate themselves from their household members, the household members’ quarantine period begins when the case is no longer infectious. For information on infectious periods, please refer to PA-HAN-518.

Quarantine Length

In accordance with recommendations and research from the CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends the following quarantine periods:

    • Option 1: Complete a full 14-day quarantine period which would begin the day after you last came into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 who is infectious. This option is the most protective and poses the lowest risk for post-quarantine transmission of the virus. Other options should only be considered if this option causes an undue burden.
    • Option 2: Individuals can end their quarantine period after Day 10 without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. However, individuals should continue to monitor their symptoms until Day 14.
    • Option 3: Individuals can end their quarantine period after Day 7 if they complete a COVID-19 test on Day 5 (or later), receive a negative test result within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation, and exhibit no symptoms during the quarantine period. Quarantine cannot be ended earlier than Day 8. COVID-19 tests completed before Day 5 of quarantine will not be sufficient to allow quarantine to end early.

Testing for the purpose of earlier discontinuation of quarantine should only be considered if it will have no impact on community diagnostic testing. Testing of symptomatic individuals seeking evaluation for infection must be prioritized.

Additional Criteria

Individuals can discontinue their quarantine periods in accordance with any of the options above only if the following criteria are also met:

    • no clinical evidence of COVID-19 has been elicited by daily symptom monitoring during the entirety of quarantine up tot he time at which quarantine is discontinued;
    • daily symptom monitoring continues through quarantine Day 14; and,
    • individuals are counseled regarding the need to adhere strictly through Day 14 after exposure to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions (masking, physical distancing, etc.).

If any symptoms develop, individuals should immediately self-isolate and contact the Department of Health at 1.877.724.3258, their local health department, or their healthcare provider to report this change in clinical status.

More Information

For more information, read the full Health Alert document. For questions, call your local health department or 1.877.724.3258.

This information has been provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 


October 7, 2020

Update: COVID-19 Child Care Operations

On September 29, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) issued an announcement to provide certified child care facilities with interim guidance for operating a facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement replaces C-20-06-Revised.


The announcement includes guidance on a range of health and safety considerations. Early learning professionals can review the guidance document in its entirety online. For examples of this guidance, continue reading below.


Practices, Policies, and Procedures

    • Implement drop-off and arrival procedures: post signage to maintain social distancing; encourage the same designated person to drop off and pick up the child every day; set up hand hygiene stations; keep hand sanitizer out of children’s reach and supervise use; stagger arrival and pick up times; transport infants in their car seats; etc.
    • Implement daily screening procedures: conduct a screening of any person entering the building; do not allow people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are showing symptoms to enter the building; ask caregivers to take their child’s temperature before coming to the facility and check their temperature again upon arrival; maintain at least six feet of distance from the parent and child; ask the child’s caregiver if any symptoms are present; put on disposable gloves; etc.
    • Implement disinfecting and sanitation procedures: clean and sanitize toys; develop a schedule for routinely cleaning and disinfecting; keep cleaning materials out of the reach of children; don’t use products near children; ensure adequate ventilation; etc.

Social Distancing in Child Care Settings

    • If possible, child care classes should include the same group each day, and the same child care providers should remain with the same group each day.
    • If your child care program remains open, consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers and other first responders.
    • Consider whether to alter or halt daily group activities that may promote transmission. Cancel or postpone special events such as festivals, holiday events, and special performances.
    • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and exercising. Keep each group of children in a separate room.
    • If possible, at nap time, ensure that children’s naptime mats (or cribs) are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. Consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread.

Face Coverings

    • If a child is outdoors and able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from individuals who are not a part of their household, they do not need to wear a face covering.
    • If a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place a face covering safely on the child’s face, they should not do so.
    • If a child two years old or older is unable to remove a face covering without assistance, the child is not required to wear one.
    • If experiencing issues with getting younger children comfortable wearing face coverings and keeping them on, parents, guardians, licensed child care providers in community-based and school settings or responsible persons may consider prioritizing the wearing of face coverings to times when it is difficult for the child to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from others who are not a part of their household (drop-off, pick-up, standing in line, etc.).

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Exposure

    • The facility must develop a process to inform facility persons of possible exposure to a positive COVID-19 case. The operator shall inform parents of enrolled children when there is a suspected outbreak of a communicable disease or an outbreak of an unusual illness that represents a public health emergency in the opinion of the Department of Health.
    • If the child is in care when the test results are confirmed positive, the child must be isolated until the appropriate party arrives to pick them up. The child’s parent must be notified as soon as possible.
    • If a facility person or child tests positive for COVID-19, areas used by the person who tested positive must be closed for a period of 24 hours following the confirmed positive COVID-19 case of a child or facility person in attendance so that the facility can be cleaned and disinfected properly. Close contacts must self-quarantine.
    • If a facility person, household member, or a child is exposed to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, they shall self-quarantine for a period of 14 days based on the CDC guidance.


    • If a facility person/child is a potential exposure AND has COVID-19 like symptoms, please report to the Department of Health or your local health department.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health. Facilities within the counties listed on page 13 of the announcement must report positive cases to their local health department, who will in turn report this information to the Department of Health.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases and positive COVID-19 cases that result in death to their Department of Human Services (DHS) Certification Representative. Facilities must utilize the DHS Licensed Facility COVID Data Collection Tool.

Timeline for Returning to Care

    • Individuals with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after at least 24 hours have passed since recovery (defined as the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and the improvement of symptoms), AND at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared.
    • Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after no less than 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, provided no symptoms have developed during that 10-day period.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons who are not tested: exclude for 10 days from symptom onset AND at least 24 hours after fever resolution (if present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons determined by a health care provider to have an illness other than COVID-19: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms improve.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons with test negative: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.

Additional Resources

More Information

This information was provided by OCDEL. For questions or concerns, please contact the regional OCDEL office at 800.222.2149. For more information, read the full announcement.


October 2, 2020

Dept. of Health Launches COVID Alert PA App

Would you like to receive alerts when you come into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19? Download the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s free COVID Alert PA App.


In the app, users report how they are feeling and whether they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If you report having symptoms, the app will provide information on what to do next. The tool also helps its users track their own symptoms within the app while also receiving public health information based on your responses.

COVID Alert PA protects your privacy and personal information. The app does not use GPS, location services, or any movement or geographical information and will never collect, transmit, or store your personal information. Your account will remain completely anonymous. The app detects if users are in close contact with another app user using Bluetooth Low Energy technology, which is the same technology your phone uses to connect to wireless headphones and other devices.

Download the App

To download the app, visit the Google Play Store or iPhone App Store. The app is available on Android phones running Android 6.0 and higher, and iPhones that support iOS 13.5 and higher. This app is not intended to be used by people under the age of 18 years old.

After you download the app, you can opt-in to receive alerts if you have had potential exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Getting timely alerts can help you get advice on how to help yourself and protect others. These alerts will reduce your likelihood of unknowingly spreading the virus to your friends, family, and community.

More Information

For more information, visit the PA Unites Against COVID webpage.