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Boscola Bulletin

Relief for Students

studentsI want to take a moment to alert students and families of the action taken last week by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Board of Directors to provide for the temporary modification of certain program requirements of PHEAA-administered Pennsylvania student aid programs. This action will ensure that recipients don't experience a disruption or reduction of funding due to operational changes made by schools in response to COVID-19.

The PHEAA Board of Directors authorized the Agency to temporarily modify, suspend, or relax certain program requirements for Pennsylvania schools and students enrolled in the 2020 Winter or Spring term for the following programs that currently assist approximately 210,000 students: 

  • PA State Grant Program
  • Institutional Assistance Grant (IAG) Program
  • Matching Funds Programs
  • Higher Education of the Disadvantaged (Act 101) Program
  • Higher Education for Blind or Deaf Students Program
  • Pennsylvania Internship Program
  • Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program (RTSS)
  • PA Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP) 

Families in every corner of the Commonwealth are struggling to protect themselves while adapting their activities to this quickly spreading pandemic. We have been coordinating our responses with the Governor’s Office and appreciate his leadership as we all come together to help Pennsylvania students and families get through these challenging times.
One example of relief would be the temporary waiver of the PA State Grant Program’s eligibility distinction between traditional in-classroom students, who currently qualify for a $4,123 maximum award, and distance education students, who currently qualify for a $3,092 maximum award, or 75 percent of a traditional award.  This waiver would hold harmless thousands of initially in-classroom recipients who could otherwise lose their higher award amount, which has already been factored into their higher education funding plan for the year.      

In order to give students and families more flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, PHEAA’s Board of Directors also extended the May 1 PA State Grant application deadline by 2 weeks to May 15. 

This deadline applies to all renewal applicants and first-time applicants who plan to enroll in colleges, universities, or a college transfer program at 2-year public or private colleges (except community colleges and designated Pennsylvania Open Admission institutions). 

To apply for a PA State Grant, applicants must first complete the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants can access this form online at www.PHEAA.org/FAFSA or www.fafsa.gov. Completing the FAFSA online saves time and reduces application and processing errors.

In addition to completing the FAFSA, first-time applicants must also submit a completed PA State Grant Form (SGF). First-time applicants who submit the FAFSA online will be automatically redirected to the SGF by following the onscreen prompts on the confirmation page. First-time applicants who have already submitted their FAFSA but have not completed the SGF, will receive an email directing them to PHEAA’s secure Account Access site for completion. Both applications are free to submit. 

Education Planner

Education PlannerMaking decisions about colleges and careers can seem very overwhelming and daunting, especially when you are at such a young age.  Make sure to take a few minutes to check out www.educationplanner.org - a one-stop career and college planning site to help prepare students and parents for the important decisions they will face in the future.

All schools in PA will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 crisisA Message from the Department of Education

Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers, and all employees who work in our schools is paramount during this national health crisis - we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

It is Safe to Donate Blood #SaveALife

Blood Donations are Safe and Vital to Respond to COVID-19

Give BloodAs the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to impact our communities, locally, the American Red Cross and Miller-Keystone Blood Center  need help to ensure they have a sufficient blood supply to support hospital patients in the Lehigh Valley and across the Commonwealth. To date, our nation’s blood supply has seen the cancellation of over 12,000 blood drives, resulting in the loss of more than 355,000 lifesaving blood donations.

Regionally, over 65 blood drives have been cancelled, resulting in the loss of nearly 1,800 lifesaving blood donations. 

Most Coronaviruses are not transmitted through transfusion. This was the experience with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus (SARS CoV) and Mideast Respiratory Syndrome (MERS CoV). However, COVID-19 is a new virus and the blood centers are taking the following precautionary steps to prevent others from becoming infected:

  • Donors who do not feel well should reschedule their appointment.
  • Donors who have traveled to areas of major outbreaks such as mainland China, Korea, Italy, and Iran should postpone blood donation for 28 days from departure.
  • Donors who have been exposed to a person having a diagnosis of COVID-19 infection should postpone donation for 28 days. Examples of exposure include but are not limited to person-to-person contact, quarantine, or on an infected cruise.
  • Donors who have recovered from COVID-19 should postpone their donation for 28 days from the end of symptoms.

Donors meeting the above criteria should call 1-800-223-6667 to reschedule their appointment.

Employers and the Coronavirus

As I am sure everyone has been, I have been reading the news at a more-than-normal rate lately and I can’t help but sharing the articles that bring me joy and pride to read.  Local businesses temporarily raising wages (and/or offering bonuses) in light of increased hours during the coronavirus pandemic that has been crippling our Commonwealth & nation the past few weeks. 

Companies have been providing employees with food and time off to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Some companies have been increasing wages temporarily and some are offering bonuses to their employees who are the front line – day in and day out – as a way to show their appreciation for their hard work and commitment while they keep food in the stores and on our tables.

Some companies that I have seen taking care of their own – while they are taking care of us (and deserve recognition!) are as follows, but not limited to: Redner’s Markets, Weis Markets, ShopRite Stores, CVS Pharmacies, Wawa.

CareerLink – Lehigh Valley

CareerLink – Lehigh ValleyCareerLink – Lehigh Valley has a NEW website they have just unveiled this week.  The new website is easier to navigate, has more visual and interactive elements, and is packed with helpful workforce information for job seekers and employers. 
PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley provides employment support and training, connecting employers and job opportunities with qualified job seekers throughout the Lehigh Valley. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and chartered by Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley pledges to provide effective, efficient, and on-target employment, training, and labor market services and information.

Select PennDOT Rest Areas Re-Open

PennDOTThe Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is reopening indoor facilities at 23 select rest areas across Pennsylvania to all motorists, including the 13 facilities in critical locations that were reopened March 18 with portable restrooms and handwashing facilities.

PennDOT’s 30 rest areas were temporarily closed statewide on March 17 in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s mitigation guidance regarding COVID-19 to ensure that proper safety and sanitation protocols were in place.

“While unnecessary travel is discouraged as we all do our part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we understand that some trips are necessary and that access to rest areas is important,” said Acting PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We are constantly evaluating our actions and services in responding to this emergency and will make adjustments where we can safely do so.”

All reopened rest areas will return to normal service with additional cleaning and maintenance. A complete list of open locations is below:

  • Interstate 79 northbound in Allegheny County, 8 miles north of Exit 45;
  • Interstate 79 northbound in Crawford County, 8 miles north of Exit 154;
  • Interstate 79 southbound in Crawford County, 3 miles south of Exit 166;
  • Interstate 79 northbound in Lawrence County, 3.5 miles north of Exit 105;
  • Interstate 79 southbound in Lawrence County, 3.5 miles south of Exit 113
  • Interstate 79 northbound in Mercer County, 5 miles south of Exit 141;
  • Interstate 79 southbound in Mercer County, 6 miles north of Exit 130;
  • Interstate 80 eastbound in Centre County, 13 miles east of Exit 133;
  • Interstate 80 westbound in Centre County, .5 miles west of Exit 147;
  • Interstate 80 eastbound in Jefferson County, 1 mile east of Exit 86;
  • Interstate 80 westbound in Jefferson County, 10 miles west of Exit 97;
  • Interstate 80 eastbound in Montour County, 4.5 miles east of Exit 215;
  • Interstate 80 westbound in Montour County, 4.5 miles west of Exit 224;
  • Interstate 80 eastbound in Venango County, .5 miles east of Exit 29;
  • Interstate 80 westbound in Venango County, 4 miles west of Exit 35;
  • Interstate 81 northbound in Cumberland County, .5 miles north of Exit 37;
  • Interstate 81 southbound in Cumberland County, 5.5 miles south of Exit 44;
  • Interstate 81 northbound in Lackawanna County, .5 miles north of Exit 202;
  • Interstate 81 northbound in Luzerne County, 1.5 miles north of Exit 155;
  • Interstate 81 southbound in Luzerne County, 1.5 miles south of Exit 159;
  • Interstate 81 southbound in Susquehanna County, 4 miles south of Exit 211;
  • Interstate 84 eastbound in Pike County, 6 miles east of Exit 20; and
  • Interstate 84 westbound in Pike County, 1 mile west of Exit 26.

The department will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
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Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
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