May 28 — 1:35 pm, 2020

Hite says that school reopening in the fall may vary across the city

It will depend on conditions of specific buildings and neighborhood needs, he said.

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite (Photo: Emma Lee/WHYY)

Reopening school in the fall may look different across the city depending on the conditions and capacities of individual buildings and the needs of communities and neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Superintendent William Hite said Thursday.

Hite said that several working groups are preparing for three different scenarios: full in-person learning, full online learning, and a “hybrid” that combines the two. It is possible that Philadelphia will see versions of all three.

“This is going to depend on the context of individual schools and communities, grade levels, capacity utilization, and other issues,” he said.  “There’s not likely to be one plan.”

In addition to following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials, Hite said, the District is planning to send out surveys to employees, teachers, students, and families “to talk about what this experience is like if, in fact, we have to go into some other type of model. We will be getting information from them as we make these plans.”

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers released a survey of its members earlier this week, in which most said they were wary of a full return to school without contact tracing and a vaccine and were skeptical of the District’s capacity to prepare and clean all the buildings to assure a safe reopening.

Hite said that it is conceivable that many teachers and students will not want to return and that the District is also planning for that.

“We do know that we will have some people in vulnerable categories that do not feel safe coming back,” Hite said. “…We’re going to just have to plan for what instruction will look like in the event that there are individuals that cannot return.”

This may include seeking waivers from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, he said.

In his weekly press call with reporters, Hite also outlined the District’s summer school plans — it will be virtual and targeted at students making transitions and needing enrichment and work to help mitigate learning loss. Information is available here.

Hite also outlined how families can register their children for pre-K. Children who turn 3 by Sept. 1, 2020, are eligible, and families can learn whether they qualify for Head Start, Pre-K Counts, or other programs here.

 

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