School District of Philadelphia among schools closed for two weeks amid COVID-19 concerns

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Saturday, March 14, 2020
Philadelphia schools among those closed due to COVID-19
Officials announced that all district schools will be closed for two weeks, starting Monday, March 16.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William Hite announced Friday afternoon that all district schools will be closed for two weeks, starting Monday, March 16.

All schools within the School District of Philadelphia will be closed beginning Monday through Friday, March 27, 2020.

Officials said the decision to close was made in light of Governor Wolf's decision to limit non-essential travel for Delaware and Montgomery county residents.

That decision has created a significant staffing challenge for the district, as many employees reside in those counties and are now unable to come to work.

"We realize the hardship that a districtwide closure of our public schools may cause our families," said Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. "We are working closely with the Office of Emergency Management and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to develop an action plan in attempt to maintain the critical support services our schools provide to students and families."

"This is a difficult decision for the district and the City, and we do so in full recognition of the hardships this may cause for many families," said Brian Abernathy, Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia. "The City is rapidly developing plans to provide comprehensive support to students and families who are challenged by the closure."

The closures put a big responsibility on places like Creative Minds Childcare Center. As for now, daycare centers have not been instructed to shut down by Wolf.

"It's very overwhelming. We have a lot of kids that are in our before and after-care and we have to figure out how to accommodate them," says owner, Tanya Williams.

Officials said over the weekend, more details on services that the City and district will provide will be made available.

The district is coordinating with the Office of Children and Families, Parks and Recreation, the Free Library, and many other offices and nonprofit partners, to provide meal service and programming in safe spaces throughout the city.

For the more than 180,000 vulnerable students who rely on free lunch within the city of Philadelphia, the school district has announced food will be offered at 29 yet-to-be-announced locations.