What’s required to start a pandemic pod in Pennsylvania?

What’s required to start a pandemic pod in Pennsylvania?

PITTSBURGH — Families are taking advantage of pandemic pods to help with kids learning from home.

The state defines a pod as a group of six to 12 kids within a group of families bonding together for child care and virtual learning. A parent must be present and be the main person watching the kids.

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Before the state put out guidance about what pods are, Channel 11′s Jennifer Tomazic started digging to find out if parents are required to get a license to have one.

The answer is no, but the state is requiring several things from pods. The first thing is that families have to register their pod with the state. You can do that HERE.

“To make sure that all children are in a healthy and safe environment as we figure out what we’re doing this fall in response to COVID-19,” said Tracey Campanini, Deputy Secretary of Office of Child Development and Early Learning.

Parents also have to create a health and safety plan, ensure compliance with Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, develop an emergency plan, have working smoke detectors, and they should let their local emergency responders know about their pod.

“It’s beneficial to know if there’s extra children there so if there is an emergency the paramedics, the police have a heads up going in so they’re able to respond in a better fashion,” said Brian Kamauf, West Mifflin Borough Manager.

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Channel 11 chose to talk to West Mifflin after hearing from a mom who got a letter from the borough after making a post online saying she was opening up her home to a handful of kids for help.

She shared the letter with Channel 11 and it says West Mifflin has regulations regarding operating a home day care business and she needs a Home Occupation Occupancy Certificate. The letter was dated Aug. 5, before the state put out guidance about what is considered a daycare and what is considered a pod.

Kamauf said they need to determine which one it falls under so that it complies with local zoning laws.

“By no means, we’re not discouraging these, we’re encouraging parents to have these things,” said Kamuff. Again, like I said, we understand the benefit of having these. We just want to make sure it’s safe for all involved."

Is there an issue at your child’s school that you’d like us to investigate? Contact our investigators by emailing 11investigates@wpxi.com or calling (412) 237-4963.

Parents creating pandemic pods to help with remote learning, socialization