News for Constituents

Senate Education Committee Reviews COVID-19 Impact on Higher Ed

The Senate Education Committee recently held a hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on higher education in Pennsylvania.  The hearing included testimony from Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, Deputy Secretary of Higher Education Noe Ortega, and PA State System of Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Dan Greenstein.  Leaders from Pennsylvania’s state-related universities, private schools, community colleges and technical institutions were also invited to testify.

The preliminary re-opening guidance provided by the Department of Education was among discussed topics.

Testimony given addressed concerns and suggestions for reopening, as well as the future of higher education, beyond the short-term impacts.

Summer Heat and Humidity Precautions

With the arrival of summer’s high temperatures, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is urging Pennsylvanians to exercise special safety precautions. 

When summer heat is combined with high humidity, the human body’s ability to cool itself through evaporation is impaired.  Heat stress becomes heat stroke as the body’s core temperature rises.  Within 10 to 15 minutes, a 98.6⁰ body temperature can increase to 106 degrees leading to permanent disability or death. 

To prevent symptoms of heat stroke including cramps, hallucinations, chills, headaches, confusion, dizziness, slurred speech, and hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying cool, hydrated, and informed.

Bicycling in PA

As gyms shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic, many Pennsylvanians rediscovered the joys of bicycling throughout the state as a form of exercising.  As a result, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is reminding bike owners about important safety precautions and requirements.

When riding between sunset and sunrise, a bike must be equipped with a front lamp and rear and side reflectors that are visible from at least 500 feet.  A proper fitting helmet is required for children under twelve years of age and younger and highly recommended for all other riders.  The rear-view mirror may be helmet-mounted or attached to the bike’s handlebars. 

If your bike has not been used recently, PennDOT also recommends that a qualified mechanic assess your cranks, brakes, handlebars, and seat for comfort and safety. 

Before biking the trails, see PennDOT’s Bicycle Safety and Laws webpage to refresh your memory on bicycle laws detailed in the PA Bicycle Driver’s Manual.

Backyard Grilling Safety

Kicking off summer by mixing fun with an open flame requires an abundance of caution, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  Annually, grills, hibachis and barbeques are the source of 9,600 home fires, including 4,100 structure fires and 5,500 outside or unclassified fires. 

Emergency rooms across the country see some 16,600 patients for grilling injuries, including 1,600 children under the age of five suffering from burns.  Fifty-eight percent of grill fires occur from May through August. 

NFPA recommends grilling a minimum of ten feet from structures, including buildings, balconies, and combustible materials.  Fire pits should not be used within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material. 

Bald Eagle Live Camera

Pennsylvanians can once again observe bald eagles up close via the bald eagle live camera, which provides an up-close view of nesting bald eagles.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission provides this live cam free of charge, along with updates from the nest.  These updates chronicle the growth of the eagles from hatching to fully grown.

Bald Eagles, which once had only three nests in Pennsylvania, have been very successfully reintroduced into the ecosystem.

New State Aging Plan

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has released the State Plan on Aging 2020-2024 Community & Stakeholder Survey.  The survey is open to adults of all ages until June 21 and takes 5-10 minutes to complete.

The State Plan on Aging provides a vision and direction for Pennsylvania’s network of aging services.  The current aging plan remains in effect until September 30, 2020.