PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia School District has made a decision about its reopening plan after fierce opposition. In a reversal from the original Philadelphia schools reopening plan, the school district is proposing students will continue virtual learning at least through November.
Students and teachers may not be returning to the classroom at the start of the year on Sept. 2. The original plan called for in-class learning two days a week and virtual learning for the other three days.
After fierce pushback from teachers and parents and continued concern about rising COVID-19 cases in the city, school officials believe it’s safer to offer all online classes through the first quarter.
A statement on the school district’s website reads in part: “After careful consideration of all of the feedback we have received, we are now proposing that we start the school year with all students learning remotely for the first marking period through Nov. 17. Students would then transition to the hybrid learning model as long as guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and other indicators support it is still safe to do so.”
Superintendent Dr. William Hite was initially against an all virtual learning setting in light of concerns that many students in the district wouldn’t have adequate access to the internet and WiFi.
Chromebooks will be available to any student who still needs one. Also, the district is continuing to work with local legislators and business leaders to secure reliable internet access for families in need for the entire school year.
Meal distribution will also continue.
This new proposal handed down by the Philadelphia School District is a win for the Federation of Teachers.
Parents seem to be happy with the continuation of remote learning as well.
“The need to have the social distancing was very important and it would make it very difficult, in fact, it would be impossible to have 33 children in a classroom six feet apart,” said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan. “Certainly we’re concerned about the parents but we know that the parents also are concerned about their child’s safety and their child’s health.”
“Our daughter likes being in the classroom and prefers in-class learning.” said Leslie Patterson-Tyler.
She is the mother of a junior at Science Leadership Academy.
Though her daughter prefers hands-on learning, Patterson-Tyler says her daughter’s health and safety comes first.
“This is not going to be a popular thing. I would rather students have to repeat school in the summer, go to summer school next year than get sick and die this school year risking themselves getting exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom,” she said.
Patterson-Tyler added that no plan is perfect but this plan keeps families safe.
Eyewitness News has learned that Dr. Hite and district leaders will hold a media briefing to discuss the just-released plan on Wednesday morning. Dr. Hite also will discuss the issue with families on a 3 p.m. Facebook Live event tomorrow.
The proposed changes will be presented to the Board of Education on Thursday at 4 p.m.
CBS3’s Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.