In this update:
How to get state-related assistance during the coronavirus shutdown
While we are still not allowing in-person office visits or taking in-person meetings, our offices are still handling constituent-related issues during this time.
Here are the various ways you can contact me:
District Office – 717-741-4648
Capitol Office – 717-787-7085
Email – SenatorKristin@pasen.gov
Contact Form – SenatorKristin.com/contact-me.
Schools to be closed through “at least April 6”
Earlier today, the Pennsylvania Department of Education notified school districts that they are to remain closed through “at least April 6.”
Last week, I had a conference call with all superintendents in the 28th Senatorial District. We have been in frequent communication during the coronavirus outbreak. We spoke with the Senate Education Committee Chair, Senator Wayne Langerholc, about a forthcoming measure to address many challenges our schools and students face with the coronavirus outbreak. You can read more about his bill here.
According to the Department of Education, The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Under the new timeline, school buildings would reopen on April 7 for two days to allow school administrators, teachers and other staff time to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return to school on April 9, unless extending the closure is needed in response to the situation with the virus at that time.
The state’s 29 intermediate units will be available to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24.
Additionally, PDE is cancelling standardized testing for students in career and technical education (CTE) programs for the 2019-20 school year. These include exams from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS).
More information can be found here.
State tax filing deadline extended to July 15
The deadline to file 2019 state personal income tax returns with the Department of Revenue has been extended by 90 days to July 15. The Internal Revenue Service also extended the federal filing deadline to the same date.
All penalties and interest on 2019 personal income tax payments will also be waived through the new deadline. The deadline is also extended for taxpayers who make quarterly estimated payments. First and second quarter payments will be due July 15.
The extension does not apply to local taxes. Community residents are encouraged to check with their local tax collection agency to determine whether local taxes are still due on April 15.
Taxpayers are encouraged to file returns electronically to enable the Department of Revenue to process returns while state offices are closed. Tax returns can be filed for free online through the PAdirectfile system.
Free tax forms and instructions are also available at www.revenue.pa.gov.
Nursing license requirements suspended to support coronavirus response
In order to support the ability of nurses to treat patients during the current public health emergency, the Department of State has suspended a number of administrative requirements for nurses.
Registered Nurses and Practical Nurses will not need to apply for extensions of temporary or graduate permits, and all permits that would normally expire during the next 90 days will be extended for an additional 90 days. Temporary nursing practice permits and graduate permits will also be extended beyond one year and extension fees will be waived.
In addition, Registered Nurses, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners and Certified Nurse Specialists can continue to care for patients if their licenses are currently in renewal and set to expire on April 30. These licenses will be extended for an additional three months.
Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners will also be given the authority to practice to their full capabilities and assist in the coronavirus response without being required to practice within a specific clinical specialty.
Nursing school graduates can also apply for a graduate permit under certain circumstances to assist in the coronavirus response. More details on measures to help healthcare practitioners treat Pennsylvanians affected by COVID-19 are available here.
Access to pharmacy services expanded
The Department of State has taken a number of steps to relax restrictions on pharmacies to ensure Pennsylvanians can continue to access the medications they need during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Out-of-state pharmacies will be permitted to ship goods into Pennsylvania under some circumstances, and temporary licensure will be granted to pharmacies in other states so they can provide goods and services to Pennsylvanians for the duration of the coronavirus emergency.
Also, pharmacists will be permitted to provide remote supervision by telephone or computer to pharmacy technicians and interns, ensuring these employees can continue to dispense medications without a pharmacist physically on the premises.
More details about this announcement are available here.
Mental health crisis line available during coronavirus emergency
The public health emergency prompted by the COVID-19 coronavirus has created a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety throughout the state and the nation. The Department of Health encourages state residents to practice self-care, read only news from reliable sources, take breaks from the news, and focus on things you can control, like having good hygiene.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, contact the state’s crisis hotline by texting PA to 741-741.
Stay safe – follow these tips
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