The approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for children age 12 and older has provided a ray of hope to families and schools nationwide as a way to help ensure students’ health and safety as they return to the in-person classroom. Afterschool and summer programs have stepped up to help increase vaccination rates among young people in their communities by providing reliable vaccine information, as well as access to vaccines themselves.

An additional $30 million in state funding for early childhood education in 2021-22 will provide early learning programs for an additional 3,200 Pennsylvania children this school year.

But the investment is not all that is needed to ensure that children from six weeks to kindergarten age have the opportunity for quality education and care, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Wolf joined local early education advocates, educators and elected officials at the Gilson Child Development Center in Erie to celebrate the increased funding and warn that more needs to be done to provide a solid foundation for later learning.

”It’s not all that we need,” Wolf said. “There’s also a need to figure out how to make this system work better. We need to reinvent and drastically transform this industry. It is that important.

In a society that asks young adults who they aspire to be, Thomas O’Neill, educator at Butler Tech Ross High School and board president of JEE Foods, encourages students to start making a significant impact at an early age. As an information technology instructor for over 20 years, his purpose when teaching at a high school level is never to hear the question, “What am I ever going to use this for?” This goal led to hands-on learning experiences that challenges students to create impressive solutions to global problems.

As students return to classrooms this fall, COVID-19 continues to present schools across the country with challenging circumstances. The pandemic has already impacted learning on an unprecedented scale, exposing and magnifying deep inequities within our education system. While no one has been left unscathed, the impacts have been most severe for those who were already the furthest behind academically—students of color and those experiencing poverty.

In the coming school year and beyond, data on student progress will be critical to understanding the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and addressing the resulting inequities. While learning has suffered across the board, the data tell a nuanced story. Understanding those nuances — particularly at the state and local level — will be essential to targeting evidence-based interventions (and recovery resources) to the students who need them most.

Nano Week is an ongoing STEM outreach program to give middle and high school level students direct and hands-on experiences in the sciences and is an opportunity for students from research labs at the University of Pennsylvania and neighboring universities to share their research and demonstrate some of the crazy science from their fields of study.

This year, Nano Week is scheduled for Nov.15-19. We will have two presentation options: (1) Presenters will travel to local Philadelphia metro area high schools to give talks in person or (2) Presenters will give their talks remotely/virtually.

Calling all high school girls! Join the Women of Range Resources, Dress for Success Pittsburgh and other leaders from a variety of professions via Zoom for our program — Virtual Connections! During this women’s empowerment event, students will learn about developing a personal brand, discuss what it means to be a woman of influence, and get the chance to interact during a Q&A session with leaders in finance, healthcare, nonprofit management, STEM, entrepreneurship and more.

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