Philadelphia families grapple with unpredictable school schedule amid COVID spike

More Philadelphia schools have temporarily transitioned to remote learning due to staffing issues caused by a continued increase in COVID-19 cases. 

John F. McCloskey School in Cedarbrook joined the growing list of schools on Monday. Abir Williams is a fifth grader at Thomas G. Morton, another school that learned that it is transitioning to virtual learning on Monday.

"This is my second week," said Williams, who prefers in-person learning to the struggles of remote school. "If your internet is acting up sometimes you can’t get in. So, I’d still rather be in school."

Abir's grandmother, Nanette Williams, sympathizes with her grandson and others facing the constant jostling between remote and in-person learning.


"It’s so chaotic because you’re in school for one day and then for two days you’re out of school," Williams said. 

The School District of Philadelphia is constantly updating its list of schools that will learn virtually. On Monday night alone, officials added four more institutions to bring the list to 98 schools. 

Parents and guardians say the uncertainty of their child staying in school is another layer of frustration.

"It was crazy because he lives in another whole part of the city than I do, and his mom had to work," Williams said. "They’re telling them either the night before or that morning ‘hey we’re virtual today’ so her workflow has to be interrupted because she has to get him to me or whoever has to be taking care of him."

Officials with the School District of Philadelphia said the best thing for parents and staff to do is just be aware that things are changing quickly. 

"What the district has committed to doing is communicating with our staff and families at least 3 times a day updates will be shared at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. and if information is received overnight it will be available at 6 a.m.," district spokesperson Monica Lewis said.

The district is trying to balance keeping schools open and keeping students and faculty members safe from a COVID-19 outbreak.

"As soon as we can get the staff back up to a manageable number, we will definitely have the schools back open," Lewis said.  

Meanwhile, families like the Williams believe it's a strain on kids and teachers. 

"I think it was better when they said ‘hey, we’re going to be out for a month or six weeks’ and keep it at that," she said. 

The district says all students should already have district-issued Chromebooks that they were urged before winter break to take home. 

If there are issues, there is a 24-hour help option and information on how to get food for your child while learning remotely. 



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