Philadelphia schools make last minute COVID safety preps before classes begin

As students return to the classrooms, safety is the number one priority.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's the final count down before students return to the classrooms in Philadelphia.

Days before the first bell rings, Action News got a behind-the-scenes look at the changes in school buildings.

"I am so incredibly excited to be back in school," said Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts student Helen Cheatam.

Students and teachers at CAPA are eager to return to in-person learning.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to get back with the kids. I have been teaching for 55 years. They are my life," said teacher LaDeva Davis.

RELATED: Philadelphia School Board votes to impose vaccine mandate for teachers, school staff

Many tell Action News despite the pandemic, school is the best place to be.

"I think I am going to feel safe. I know the school has the interest of all the students. Of course, it is a little nerve-racking, but I did get the vaccine, so that is good, and I know nobody wants us to get sick," said student Ella Keon.

As students return to the classrooms, safety is the number one priority.

Masks must be worn at all times, regardless of vaccination status. Signs are up throughout school buildings reminding students to practice social distancing and follow other COVID-19 safety guidelines.

"I am praying and hoping that a large number of our students are vaccinated because they can be. The sense I am getting is that they are. One hundred percent of the adults are vaccinated here," said Principal Joanne Beaver.

Beaver says all the safety protocols are in place. Floors are properly marked, chairs are spaced out, and the sanitizing stations are ready. They are just waiting on the students and hoping COVID doesn't impact in-person learning.

"Yeah, that fear does exist. It is real, and it is something that we may have to plan for. I told my staff it's like a roller coaster ride. You don't know where it is going to begin, where the dips are. You don't know where it is going to stop, be prepared," said Beaver.

ALSO RELATED: Masks will be required in all schools in Philadelphia archdiocese

Weekly COVID-19 tests will be required for staff, and students will be tested if they exhibit symptoms.

Teachers and staff say they can only do so much and hope safety measures already in place will ensure a great school year.

"Our plan is to do school as much as it would normally look like with all of those safety precautions in place," said Beaver.

Classes in Philadelphia begin on August 31.

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