PHILADELPHIA - The School District of Philadelphia have switched 92 schools to virtual learning for the remainder of the first week of January 2022, district officials announced. District officials added 11 more schools to the remote-only list Tuesday. Monday, district leaders first placed 77 schools in virtual-only status, updating that number to 81 by Monday night. By Tuesday night, a total of 92 schools were placed in the remote-only status.
The change is due to staffing problems the district has been experiencing because of the COVID-19 omicron variant surge experienced in the Delaware Valley throughout much of December.
The district initially announced the changes for 77 schools on Monday but added four more later Monday night.
A listing of schools making the shift to all-virtual learning beginning Tuesday, January 4 and running through, at least, Friday, January 7, can be found here.
More than 1,100 PFT members and nearly 2,000 household members have reported positive cases since Dec. 23. The school district cited this as one of the reasons schools have been switching to virtual learning.
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"As we’ve always said, our goal is to keep the District open so we can surround our young people with the caring educators and support services they need – as long as we can do so safely," said Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. "District leaders have been meeting regularly with local public health officials to monitor the COVID-19 situation, and we’ve also been closely tracking data to determine COVID’s impact on staff coverage in schools. We will continue to do this and make school-by-school decisions based on the latest available data."
The district says health and safety protocols that have been in schools since the beginning of the school year will continue to be enforced - including mandatory masks for students, vaccine requirements for staff and student-athletes, and enhanced cleaning protocols.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced on Monday that over the last two weeks 38 percent of COVID-19 tests in Philadelphia have come back positive
Over the last two weeks, Philadelphia is also averaging 2,654 new cases of COVID-19 per day.
Dr. William Hite, superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, joined Good Day Philadelphia Tuesday to discuss the matter at hand, explaining that since so many individuals have tested positive, the decision makes sense.
They also had COVID-19 staff absences, which impacted the 81 schools.
"The good side of this is that 140 open schools are open for young people to attend," Dr. Hite said to offer an alternative perspective on the issue.
Furthermore, Dr. Hite says the students struggled with virtual learning and the distance from the classroom. He explained that schools are imperative for the success of young people.
In the meantime, staff at schools will be providing to-go meals through Friday to help students.
Teachers currently undergo weekly testing regardless of vaccination status, which helps provide a snapshot into the community with the extent of COVID-19's impact.