Philadelphia public schools will have a hybrid start this fall, joining other districts reconsidering opening plans

Philadelphia public schools will have a hybrid start this fall, joining other districts reconsidering opening plans

The Philadelphia Independent School District plans to reopen with a hybrid of in-person and online learning, with most students physically attending school two days per week. Under this plan, schools in Philadelphia would resume on September 2.

Each of the more than 200 schools within the district will create its own individual plan, while abiding by the safety guidelines outlined by Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. on Wednesday.

These measures mirror those many other major school districts nationwide are taking amid the pandemic, including temperature/health checks, masks, social distancing, limiting classroom capacity, and increased cleaning of classrooms and public spaces.

“We all are living through a pandemic, and there will surely be challenges ahead during these uncertain times,” Hite said. “But I am confident that by working together, we will be able to provide our students with the education they need and deserve. And by working together, we will be able to develop solutions as issues arise and ensure that we will all get through this as safely as possible.”

California’s two largest districts announced on Monday that schools will not open for in-person classes when the academic year starts in August. Los Angeles Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District are the largest school districts to date to forgo any type of in-person learning.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans for schools in the largest district in the country to reopen with at least some in-person classes in the fall. Proposing three models of staggered in-person classes, de Blasio’s plan would allow for in-person attendance one to three days a week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that in order for in-person classes to be allowed, a region must be in Phase 4 of reopening, which New York City is not.

Philadelphia’s plan is to provide face-to-face learning for students with complex needs. K-12 students will be assigned to come to school on Mondays/Wednesdays, or Tuesdays/Thursdays, with all students doing digital learning on Fridays.

Teachers and students will be provided with masks to be worn when it’s impossible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. The district has different face covering requirements depending on grade level and will provide the necessary equipment for each student.

Students in pre-kindergarten through grade 5 will be provided with two face shields and five surgical masks per week. Teachers in these grades will be provided with two face shields per week.

Students in grade 6-12 will be provided with five disposable surgical masks per week. And special needs students will be provided with two face shields per week.

School safety officers and transportation staff will be provided with one durable face shield for the year and a disposable surgical mask daily.

While Nurses, cleaning and maintenance staff will be provided with one face shield weekly and one disposable surgical mask daily. All employees will receive one cloth mask.

Hite predicted that this plan would cost “somewhere north of $60 million” and “could go as high as “$80 million.”

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