School District of Philadelphia prepares for return of pre-K through 2nd grade students next month

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The School District of Philadelphia leaders are preparing for the return of students to the classroom for the first time in almost a year.

Plans are still being finalized to bring pre-K through 2nd grade students back some time in February.

This is a big step, especially since students haven't been in classrooms since March of last year.

As the plan is worked out, the timeline on vaccinating teachers is still up in the air. It will be based off of when the vaccine will be made available.

"Our return is not conditioned on vaccines. However, naturally, we support expediting the vaccines so educators are receiving those," said superintendent Dr. William Hite.

The superintendent also said a large number of teachers and staff live in other counties. District leaders said they're in contact with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health about when and where those educators will be able to receive the vaccine.

The main focus for the district right now is getting students back into classrooms. It'll take some adjusting.

Hite said staff will have at least a week of training and getting classrooms ready for those pre-K through 2nd graders to safely return to school.

Plans are still in the works for bringing back special needs and older students.

Dr. Barbara Klock, the school district's medical advisor, said they're also working to determine who will be tested for COVID-19 and how frequently.

"It would be wonderful to have as many people vaccinated prior to coming back in terms of teachers and people who are in the appropriate list of categories of 1A, 1B, and further along," Klock said. "That would be our ideal because the more people who are vaccinated the better we can stay safe among ourselves and rid ourselves of the virus."

District officials said they are not sure yet which teachers will be first in line among those who want to receive the vaccine.

The exact return date for students in February has not been announced as of yet.
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