By Kerri Corrado

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly 50 Philadelphia schools will be reverting to virtual learning next week due to COVID-19-related staffing shortages, but health experts are saying kids need to be in schools. The question is how long will the switch to remote learning last?

The Philadelphia School District announced Friday 46 schools will go virtual next week.

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The decision comes as the district battles staff shortages as COVID-19 cases surge, fueled by the omicron variant.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Dr. William Hite says, “Omicron continues to impact staffing in our schools and central offices. We ask for your patience as we conduct daily reviews to inform school-by-school decisions as quickly as possible.”

The Pennsylvania teachers’ union says to move forward safely, safety measures inside schools need to improve.

“Schools are not safe to open and there is really no quality of learning going on,” American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania President Arthur Steinberg said.

The AFT wants negotiated vaccine mandates, masking requirements including KN95s or greater and asymptomatic testing regardless of vaccination status.

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Without these, the ATF says in-person learning should pause for two weeks.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Executive Board Member Trina Dean says going remote is the last thing teachers want to resort to.

“We absolutely want to be in school, such a false narrative out there that we want to be home and collect our paychecks,” Dean said. “No, our underaged students learn best when they are in front of their teachers in person, but when it’s safe.”

While it’s been a bumpy road mid-school year, parents, teachers and staff are working toward some sort of normalcy in classrooms moving forward.

“This has been a very challenging year for the school district. family and parents,” Dean said. “We are all in this together.”

The school district said it will decide about shifting any other schools to virtual learning by 4 p.m. Sunday.

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The 46 schools going virtual next week are:

  • Add B. Anderson School
  • Anna L. Lingelbach School
  • Anne Frank School
  • Bache-Martin School
  • Baldi Middle School
  • Benjamin Franklin Elem. School
  • Charles W. Henry School
  • Cooke Elementary School
  • Dr. Ethel Allen School
  • Edward T. Steel School
  • Feltonville Arts & Sciences
  • Feltonville Intermediate
  • Gen. George G. Meade School
  • Gen. Louis Wagner Middle Sch.
  • Grover Washington Jr. Middle
  • Hamilton Disston School
  • Hon. Luis Munoz-Marin School
  • Howe Academics Plus School
  • J. Hampton Moore School
  • James G. Blaine School
  • James Logan School
  • James R. Lowell School
  • John B. Kelly School
  • Joseph Pennell Elementary
  • Laura H. Carnell School
  • Lewis C Cassidy Academics Plus
  • Lewis Elkin School
  • Mary Bethune School
  • Mifflin, Thomas School
  • Morton Mc Michael School
  • Olney Elementary School
  • Rhodes Elementary School
  • Roberto Clemente Middle School
  • Rowen School
  • Rudolph Blankenburg School
  • Samuel Pennypacker School
  • Samuel S. Fels High School
  • Southwark School
  • Tanner Duckrey School
  • Thomas Edison High School
  • Thomas G. Morton School
  • Thomas K. Finletter School
  • West Philadelphia High School
  • William H. Loesche School
  • William H. Ziegler School
  • Woodrow Wilson Middle School