In this file photo, students take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments exam.

Standardized tests in Pennsylvania are the latest casualty of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The state Department of Education announced Thursday that it's cancelling all PSSA — Pennsylvania System of School Assessment — testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year. 

The move also applies to the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment. 

“Our school communities are operating within unprecedented conditions,” said Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera. “Schools are making extraordinary efforts to remain connected to students and families, to provide food service and to put appropriate systems in place to continue student learning. Assessments should not be the focus of school leaders right now."

PSSA testing was scheduled to begin April 30, with Keystone testing following on May 11. 

The state still has submit waivers to the U.S. Department of Education Rivera said, but he made clear that "no schools in the Commonwealth will be administering these tests this year."

Superintendents told LNP | LancasterOnline they were pleased with the state's decision. 

"The magnitude of the current emergency makes the delivery of state assessment impossible this year," Penn Manor Superintendent Mike Leichliter said, adding "precious time" left in the school year shouldn't be devoted to high-stakes testing. 

Manheim Township Superintendent Robin Felty seconded that.  

"Given the school closure and the uncertainty of what lies ahead of us," she said, "the cancellation of these exams helps our staff and students who may have been anxious about the tests given the decreased amount of time for instruction and preparation."

Solanco Superintendent Brian Bliss said the move was "greatly appreciated."

"In reality, though, our eyes were not focused on standardized testing at this time," he said. 

Standardized tests were just one of the many intricate challenges facing school officials during the shutdown. More immediate concerns arguably include ensuring students access to meals, educational resources and other needs. 

And while the move may lift some weight off of the shoulders of school officials this year, the fate of advanced placement and International Baccalaureate testing remains in question. 

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