Back to school: Philadelphia families, teachers prep for first day of school

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ByJaclyn Lee via WPVI logo
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
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From picking up last minute supplies to setting up classrooms at home, parents in the Philadelphia say they're ready for the first day of school.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- From picking up last-minute supplies to setting up classrooms at home, parents in the Philadelphia School District said they're ready for the first day of school on Wednesday.

"It's not ideal for anybody, so I think once you realize that, then it is kind of like, 'We can make this work for now,' and hopefully be able to go back to school soon," said Kim Roth, a parent.

Teachers like Sharahn Santana at Parkway Northwest High School put the final touches on their virtual classrooms.

Santana said she'll really miss the social interaction of school.

"Trying to figure that piece out of how to still connect with young people and motivate them in a virtual domain. That is probably the most difficult thing for me," said Santana.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Dr. William Hite said it's important to manage expectations and said that the district developed activities to keep students engaged with teachers and peers during the virtual school year.

"This is unlike the spring and individuals will have lessons, they will be graded, we are taking attendance," said Dr. Hite. "So, it's really important that individuals are logged on."

But the beginning of the school year isn't without controversy. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' contract with the school district, representing more than 11,000 school employees, expired Monday night.

The union is pushing for salary raises and a safer reopening plan once students return in person. PFT negotiations will continue for the next two weeks, officials said.

"Schools this year have to have certain conditions in order to do our best to mitigate this virus," said Jerry Jordan, PFT President.

If parents or students run into technological or connectivity issues during the school day, Hite encourages them to call 211.