Schools in Philadelphia will not resume full in-person learning following months of school closures, instead choosing a hybrid schedule that will have students receiving face-to-face instruction only two times per week.
Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr. emphasized that, regardless of what the school year looks like, students are expected to participate in school five days a week.
“Our schools will offer a mix of face-to-face and digital learning to help meet the varied needs of all of our students, families, and staff,” he said.
The school district hopes to move the first day of school to September 2, 2020, although the final decision is subject to approval from the board.
The school district has detailed a variety of options it examined in determining its course of action for the upcoming academic year and selected “Schedule 3,” which has “Face-to-face learning for students with complex needs and A/B Schedule for all other K-12 students.”
Under this plan, K-12 students will attend school two days a week — either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday — and participate in virtual school on the days they are not physically in school, including Friday. Schools will “make every effort to ensure siblings in a household are on the same schedule.”
Students with complex needs will attend school Monday through Thursday.
Like other school districts across the country, the School District of Philadelphia will offer parents the option of choosing a “Digital Academy” model, which is entirely virtual.
“Students registering for the Digital Academy must remain in that model throughout the first quarter and will only be able to transition out of the Academy at the start of a new quarter,” the district said.
As for on-campus learning, schools will implement a series of health and safety protocols, including assigned seats spaced six feet apart, the use of masks, staggered schedules, and enhanced sanitization.
However, Superintendent Hite warned this week the plan is contingent on current health conditions in the area.
“Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said the extra steps would come at a cost — possibly $80 million or more — and cautioned that public health conditions could shift abruptly and force a return to 100% remote instruction,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
School districts all across the county are crafting plans to resume school in the Fall in the era of the novel coronavirus — whether virtually or on-campus. Houston’s Independent School District, for example, is opting to kick the year off with virtual school and open doors for in-person learning in October.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is taking a different approach, beginning the year with virtual learning with no immediate plans to bring children back to a physical campus.