Philadelphia School District moves 81 virtual schools through Friday due to staff issues related to COVID – CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The return to distance learning comes as COVID cases in our region soar and schools face staff shortages. The Philadelphia School District announced Monday that 81 schools are expected to go virtual until at least Friday.

The school district will then determine how to proceed next week.

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Eyewitness News was on Tuesday at South Philly High School, which is one of three places families can go if they need technical assistance. The other two locations are at the Fitzpatrick Annex Building and Martin Luther King High School.

The centers are open this week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but on Wednesdays they close at 5 p.m.

For now, families and staff are scrambling to understand the temporary change to virtual.

A lot of students had already returned their chrome books after returning to in-person learning and will now need to pick up what they will need for the next few days after the District decision temporarily shut down nearly seven dozen schools due to staff shortages linked to COVID.

Some parents fear that these surprise disruptions will affect the quality of their children’s work.

“I’m really confused about this because I’m a little worried about what they’re learning right now,” said Cecilia Figuereo, who was dropping off her child at Masterman. “For example, my daughter was sent home in December because she was next to another child, but no one was teaching her. “

In a social media post, State Representative Jordan Harris, who represents South Philly, said:

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“First, the schools in Philly made the right choice in closing buildings this week. Second, it was done in a totally unacceptable way at the last minute with poor communication with teachers, staff, parents and students.

Harris added that this would more than likely be the case and the district should not have waited until the 11th hour to announce the closures.

The decision to relocate 81 virtual schools comes after a push by the Philadelphia Teachers’ Federation, citing a spike in COVID cases among teachers.

“As we’ve always said, our goal is to keep the district open so that we can surround our young people with the caring educators and support services they need – as long as we can do it safely,” said Superintendent William Hite, Jr. “District leaders met regularly with local public health officials to monitor the COVID-19 situation, and we also closely monitored the data to determine the impact of COVID on coverage. staff in schools. We will continue to do so and make school-by-school decisions based on the latest available data. “

The school district said principals will communicate directly with students and families with information regarding virtual learning. Staff at 81 schools are required to report to work in person unless they are isolated or quarantined due to exposure or testing, awaiting test results, showing symptoms or having approved leave.

Staff members who are able to provide virtual home schooling may do so after confirming arrangements with principals.

In addition, the school district says it continues to follow the guidelines of the Philadelphia Department of Health’s health and safety protocols, including:

  • Wearing a mask is compulsory for students and staff regardless of vaccination status;
  • Vaccine requirements for staff and student-athletes;
  • Weekly COVID-19 tests for employees and on-site COVID-19 tests for students who exhibit COVID-like symptoms during the school day;
  • Improved cleaning protocols during the school day and for several hours after the end of the school day at each school using cleaning products approved by the EPA;
  • Air and surface purifiers in all teaching spaces, gymnasiums, cafeterias and offices;
  • Maintain non-contact hand sanitizer stations and school supplies to support frequent hand washing and sanitizing by students and staff

Click here to view the list of the 81 schools that are moving virtually from Tuesday January 4 to Friday January 7 at least.

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CBS3 reporters Alecia Reid and Wakisha Bailey contributed to this story.

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