PHILADELPHIA - The School District of Philadelphia's plans to shift to hybrid learning beginning at the end of the month have been delayed due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases, officials say.
The schools will instead remain virtual "until further notice," the district said in a tweet Tuesday morning.
The decision comes as Pennsylvania officials say the number of coronavirus cases is increasing across the state. On Tuesday, the state added 4,361 new cases to their total. That is the highest single-day increase in the state since the start of the pandemic.
"Based on the most recent updates from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH), in order to help safeguard the health and well-being of our staff, students and families, the School District of Philadelphia has determined that all schools will remain fully virtual at this time," Superintendent Dr. William Hite said in a letter released Tuesday. "This means our plans to begin transitioning to a hybrid learning model later this month are on hold and all students will continue with 100% digital learning until further notice."
Dr. Hite added that the district's goal continues to be a transition to hybrid learning "only when guidance and data from the PDPH, PDE and PDH shows that we can do it safely."
Last month, district officials had unveiled plans to shift students in pre-K through second grade to a hybrid learning model.
As those students returned, officials planned to monitor their transition before setting a date for other groups of students to return, including students with complex needs in grades 3-12, who were expected to return sometime in January. Ninth grade and CTE students would ideally have returned in late February with the rest of the student body to return at a time determined by the conditions of the pandemic.
The district's hybrid model would include a split week, with one group of students learning in-person Monday and Tuesday, while another learns remotely. Those groups would then switch roles on Thursday and Friday, with students who learned virtually earlier in the week returning to school.
During each phase, families were to be informed about each of the options and will be able to choose between hybrid learning or all virtual learning.
Dr. Hite explained during a press conference last month that the students who would be returning first were prioritized due to complex needs and disproportionate challenges in receiving virtual instructions. He also cited the drop-out rates among ninth-grade students.
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