The PA House and Senate last week both narrowly passed HB 1737, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Gleim (R-Cumberland). It was a wide-ranging bill that was amended in the Senate to offer protections for schools, healthcare providers, nursing homes and other nonprofits from lawsuits arising out of the pandemic so long as the entity in question followed current safety protocols.
The PA Catholic Conference has been closely following this issue as a means to keep our schools and churches open under CDC protocols outlined for COVID-19.
The bill now has to be signed by the Governor.
The vote was tight in both the House and Senate with strong support from Republicans. Gleim said in a tweet: the “Senate put together a great package of pro-economic growth policy and I was honored to carry the bill in the House.”
Several Republican senators also touted the value of the measure.
Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) said in a tweet that the “Senate passed HB 1737 to stave off waves of lawsuits that could bankrupt already struggling employers and unfairly harm our health care providers, nursing homes, schools and others who did their best to follow the changing and sometimes conflicting state and federal COVID-19 guidance.”
The PCC and Catholic school administrators across the state feel it is important to keep our schools open as long as sufficient health and safety precautions are taken. There have been a few incidents of positive cases here and there in our Catholic schools, but the schools have been able to conduct in-school learning safely.
“I think most educators would admit that in-person instruction is the most effective way of learning for school-aged children, especially those in the lower grades,” said Eric Failing, the Executive Director of the PCC. “Our schools have gone to great lengths to keep students safe and for the last several months we have done just that.”