By Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Classes at Philadelphia public schools begin on Monday, and thousands will be finding their way to new schools for the first time.
With all of the uncertainty surrounding teachers and staffing in Philadelphia schools, the last thing a student needs is trouble getting to school on the first day. 55,000 children ride SEPTA to school, and district COO Fran Burns recommends a dry run before day one.
“Know what route they’re going to take, know what time the bus comes, know to get to the stop five minutes, maybe, before,” Burns say. “But the main message is to prepare.”
She says more than 300 students whose schools were permanently closed last year will now ride SEPTA to school for the first time.
SEPTA’s website has a school trip planner directing students from the 24 closed schools to their new ones. SEPTA assistant General Manager of Operations Ron Hopkins says the transit agency’s website has tailored info.
“The school that you were previously at, the school that you’re going to. And then it gives you three, four, five options, whether it’s the trolley or the subway,” Hopkins says. “We’ll tell you what station it is.”
But some parent activists say students need more than that.
“The kids basically are getting a shove out the door,” says Helen Gym, “a map in their hand and a ‘good luck’ sign and I hope you make it to school.”
The school district is using town watch volunteers in a program called WalkSafePHL to ensure safety to and from school.