Dozens of Philadelphia schools move virtual next week as COVID staffing issues persist

The School District of Philadelphia on Sunday announced that dozens of schools will move to virtual learning for the second week of the new year as educators continue to grapple with the virus-related staffing issues. 

"It’s important to know that shifting any school to virtual learning is always a last resort. Our schools are more than just institutions of learning," Superintendent Dr. William Hite said in a letter to families.

Following a school-by-school review, the district has determined that 99 schools will be virtual from Jan. 10 through Jan. 14. All other schools beyond the 94 now listed on the website will provide in-person learning at this time.

For a full list of schools shifting to virtual learning for next week, CLICK HERE.

The district said it will continue to monitor COVID-19 staffing issues and will provide an update on Sunday. Schools not listed in Friday's batch should prepare for the possibility of a shift to remote learning, Hite said. 

Nearly 85% of Philadelphia School District employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to officials. The district claims to have "numerous layers of safety in place" to keep schools open, including mandatory masks, hand washing stations and air purifiers. 

The extension of virtual learning comes after a week in which students from over 80 schools learned from home. In response, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers called the last-minute decision a "failure to plan" and "simply obscene." 

According to the union, over 90% of Philadelphia schools reported staffing shortages and more than half said they lack access to testing supplies. Further, over a quarter of responding schools reported shortages in masks, hand sanitizer and air purifiers. 

"Instead of heeding our call for a 7-day pause on in-person learning to effectively plan for adequate mitigation measures, the District undertook an outrageous eleventh-hour plan that parents and educators alike learned about on social media," Union boss Jerry Jordan said in a letter. 




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