Pod regulations to stop parents in their tracks
Pennsylvania parents thinking of starting a learning pod for their children should prepare to jump through some hoops. Then jump some more. And keep jumping.
The state Department of Human Services' Office of Child Development and Early Learning announced on Aug. 26 -- the day some schools were set to begin -- that families with kids attending public school cannot form a learning pod of six or more unrelated students unless the parents do all of the following:
No. 1: Develop a COVID-19 health and safety plan that aligns with state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
No. 2: Develop an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.
No. 3: Check with local zoning ordinances in case residential child care is prohibited.
No. 4: Ensure that every space where the pod gathers has a functional fire detection system.
No. 5: Ensure compliance with child protective services, and make sure anyone working with or supervising children undergoes a background check.
No. 6: Make clear to all adults in the pod who supervise children that they are mandatory child abuse reporters and must alert the authorities if they suspect anything is amiss.
No. 7: Fill out the department's online forms, which state that in the event of an investigation, parents must "allow DHS representatives access if they arrive at the service location and present a commonwealth issued ID badge."
Surely, it's a snap for you to develop a health and safety plan aligned with CDC guidelines? You can find them on the CDC webpage entitled "Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020." Note, for instance, that if one of the kids tests positive for COVID-19, your job would then be to "determine if, when, and for how long part or all of a school should be closed." For help, you can "refer to CDC's Interim Considerations for K-12 for School Administrators for SARS-CoV-2 Testing, which provides additional information about viral diagnostic testing." See? A snap!