By Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More details about the School District of Philadelphia’s hybrid reopening plan are expected to be released Wednesday. Mayor Jim Kenney and school leaders are racing to bring students back to the classroom but teachers still have some concerns about safety.

“The earlier years of a child’s education is some of the most important years. And these kids are almost a year behind now, then where they would be in their matriculation,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

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The School District of Philadelphia has been in an all-virtual learning setting since last March because of the pandemic.

Now the district is inching closer to bringing Pre-K through second-grade students back into classrooms in a hybrid learning format in February. But the head of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers says there needs to be more safeguards before that happens.

“Our members are really, really anxious to be back in classrooms, face-to-face with children, doing what they do best and that’s teaching them. So we’re looking forward to that but the buildings have to be safe. We have to have a safe environment, which means that there’s going to be the need for the wearing of masks, for social distancing,” PFT President Jerry Jordan said.

Jordan says teachers and staff members are still waiting on an actual return date, and now that COVID-19 vaccinations are being rolled out, teachers need to be at the top of the priority list.

“While distribution is occurring, it’s not occurring fast enough. We’d like all of the people who work with children in our schools who are returning to get priority because we know that that will be the thing that will protect our members and the children and certainly help to stop the spread of the virus home to their loved ones,” Jordan said.

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With signs of a return to schools happening soon, teachers union leaders say they want to make sure everyone stays safe and COVID outbreaks are kept at bay.

“Let’s make sure that when we return buildings are safe, people are vaccinated. Let’s not with our kids or our members getting ill,” Jordan said.


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