2 of area's largest school districts prepare reopening plans for fall

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For two of the largest school districts in our area - Philadelphia and Central Bucks - administrators are discussing utilizing three different options when students return in the fall: in-person learning, completely virtual or mixing both options, also known as a hybrid approach.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Dr. William Hite said if parents choose for their children to do 100% virtual learning, they are considering pairing remote teachers with remote learning students.

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"Another point that teachers made were the challenges that would be associated with...remote and in person," said Dr. Hite. "While also dealing with their own children who are doing remote and in-person, and trying to understand that's going to be double the amount of effort and work."

Hite said the school district will release a reopening plan on July 15 and while they want students to return in-person, he said they are guided by the health experts and scientists.

In Central Bucks School District, Superintendent John Kopicki said parents will be able to choose between in-person, a hybrid approach or full-time virtual. He said if parents opt to do 100% virtual learning, the curriculum will be taught by a third party.

"That will be managed by our teachers but will not be taught by our teachers," explained Kopicki. "If you do the in-person tradition model or the hybrid model, that will be our teachers using our learning management systems and our curriculum."

Hillary Linardopoulos, Legislative Representative for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said they need guidance and a specific plan before schools reopen in the fall.

"We desperately want our kids back in school buildings but if we're not following the science and were not following the guidance of medical professionals that jeopardizes our young people's safety," said Linardopoulos.

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In terms of transportation, Philadelphia Public Schools plan to limit each school bus to 11-15 students instead of 30-44 and is working closely with SEPTA, as 7-12th graders must take SEPTA to get to school.

"In terms of safety protocols, SEPTA will continue working closely with the school district to make sure students know about the face-covering requirement on SEPTA," said a SEPTA spokesperson. "Where possible, we will try to assist with providing face coverings for students, or provide them with information on how to make one out of cloth or other materials they have at home."

Central Bucks School District is still hammering out transportation details but the superintendent said they plan on having children ride the bus.

"They're going to be required to wear masks, we're going to try and shorten our trips as best we can," said Kopicki.

Central Bucks School District plans to get approval for their re-opening plan at the July 28 school board meeting and then will communicate more details with the public.

Both superintendents acknowledge that students are off track due to the pandemic and plan on student assessments once school resumes in the fall.
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