PHILADELPHIA - A limited number of young Philadelphia students will return to in-person instruction at 53 School District of Philadelphia schools beginning next Monday, city officials have announced.
The news comes after a third-party mediator reviewed the district's health and safety protocols and previous attempts to return to limited in-person instruction were postponed.
Mayor Jim Kenney announced Monday that the mediator was able to develop a reopening process that both the district and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) were able to agree upon.
Instead of waiting for all schools to meet reopening guidelines, the district and PFT have agreed to review the schools in batches. Mayor Kenney says the batch approach came as part of an effort "to start bringing students back for in-person instruction sooner rather than waiting for all of the schools to be individually reviewed and approved."
53 schools that have already been approved will resume in-person instruction using the district's hybrid model on Monday, March 8 for Pre-K to 2nd-grade students who opted into hybrid learning last fall. Pre-K through 2nd-grade teachers in those schools will report to school Wednesday, March 3.
Moving forward, Kenney says a batch of new schools will reopen each week until all Pre-K to 2nd-grade students who opted into hybrid learning in the fall have returned.
Mayor Kenney added that the goal is to have return dates announced for all of the students who opted into hybrid learning by March 22.
Each week, the district will announce which schools will be opening on Monday, and teachers will return to those buildings that Wednesday. Students will return the following Monday.
"This has been a detailed process, one that has taken some time, but that ultimately produced a plan all parties all parties can feel comfortable with," Mayor Kenney said Monday. "And of course, the most important thing for all of us is now we'll be able to move forward with getting kids back into school."
In recent weeks PFT officials have argued that school buildings were not properly fit for the safety of students and staff. They had previously pointed to the use of window fans to address airflow concerns in schools with insufficient HVAC systems as an area of contention.
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