School District of Philadelphia releases COVID-19 protocols for upcoming school year

With the start of the school year for Philadelphia students right around the corner, officials announced updated health protocols. 

Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. and School District Medical Officer Kendra B. McDow announced the health and safety protocols for the upcoming school year at a press conference on Friday. 

The announcement comes one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed COVID-19 guidelines, including a quarantine period and social distancing. 

As nearly 200,000 students prepare to return to schools, Watlington said the health and safety of students had been on the mind of the administration, which is taking a multi-layered approach. 

District officials say schools will have air and surface purifiers, touchless hand sanitizer stations and touchless hydration centers. 

Each school will also be sanitized before the first day of school and daily when the school year begins. 

Watlington says the district is working closely with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and they are committed to keeping students in school for in-person learning. 

The new COVID-19 protocols will be tiered depending on a student's COVID-19 status. 

According to the new protocols, there are three different levels, including masking, mask to stay and isolation. 


For the upcoming school year, masks are option, but recommended for students and staff, except for the following: 

  • First 10 days of the school year (masks are required from August 29 - September 9)
  • When COVID-19 Community Level Indicators are high. If this happens, the District will contact families and staff to notify them of the change.
  • If there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a classroom or throughout the school
  • PreK Head Start programs are required to wear masks at all times

Mask to Stay

The school district says students and staff who have been exposed to COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine unless they have symptoms. Students who are exposed can now return to school, but they must wear a mask for 10 days. 


Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate at home for at least five calendar days and participate in remote learning. 

Parents will also be required to notify the school's nurse or call the COVID Response Team. If a child is symptom-free after five days in isolation, the student can return to school, but they must wear a mask for five days and eat in a designated area at school. 


School nurses will provide COVID-19 testing for students who show symptoms during the school day. If there is an outbreak at the school, a testing vendor will come to allow for additional testing at the school. 

Students must have a signed parental consent form on file at the school in order to be tested. 


Officials say COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged but not required for students or student-athletes.  


The School District says it is also working closely with Philadelphia DPH to monitor monkeypox and will seek guidance to identify safety measures for schools. 

For more information about the new health and safety protocols, click here