School District of Philadelphia will require teachers, students to wear masks in the fall

The School District of Philadelphia on Thursday said masks will be required for teachers and students in the fall as the city tries to restart full in-person learning amid changing variables in the coronavirus pandemic.

The district has reportedly spent four and a half million dollars of CARES Act funds on state-of-the-art air and surface purifiers for all learning environments and collective spaces. Reggie McNeil, COO, says it's good for more than COVID-19.

When tested in an enclosed setting, the air purifying technology deactivated the virus to below detectable levels within three minutes.

"In addition to the COVID-19 virus, active pure technology has been tested in independent laboratories and proven to eliminate viruses, bacteria, mold, and fungi on both surfaces and in the air," McNeil said.

Air quality was a huge sticking point in getting teachers back into classrooms last year. Teachers Union President Jerry Jordan called it money well-spent.

"Members have been concerned about ventilation, and this is going to answer many of their questions," Jordan said.

The district also touted a new hybrid option for families that are not quite ready to dive into a return to full in-person instruction.

"It will not be the type of hybrid option that we've had in the past. So it will be a virtual option working with individuals who will, for the most part, be virtual teachers," Hite said.

Hite adds that at least 60 percent of the system's 20 thousand person workforce is vaccinated, and is a conservative estimate according to him. 

The lack of children's vaccinations and their parents' potential attitudes towards it gives pause.

"I'm going to take very good precaution on the steps that they're hopefully going about. Like I hope that they did put new stuff in the schools for the kids to go back because they really want to go back to school so bad. So, if everything is up to standards? They're going back, I'm cool with it," a parent said.



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