Some Pre-K to 2nd grade Philadelphia students return to in-person learning today

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some Pre-K through 2nd grade Philadelphia students returned to in-person learning on Monday morning.

After a mediation between the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, city officials announced last week that 53 schools were approved to return to the classroom on March 8.

An additional 45 schools have been approved to return to classrooms for in-person learning on Monday, March 15. The list can be seen at the bottom of this article.

The city said the goal is to have the return dates for all Pre-K to 2nd-grade hybrid learning students announced by March 22.

SEE ALSO: Behind-the-scenes look at COVID safety measures in place at one Philly elementary school
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The School District of Philadelphia gave Action News a behind-the-scenes look at the new safety measures in place at one elementary school as some students return to in-person learning next week.

It's not the first day of school, but it is the first-day in-school for dozens of hybrid students at Juniata Park Academy.

"I'm going to make some friends from school," said student Adrianne Martinez.

"You can go to the gym and do gym and that stuff. On a computer, you can't do gym," said 5th grader Zohaib Khan.

School district Superintendent Dr. William Hite and Mayor Jim Kenney welcomed students.

"I'm not an educator, but I believe learning virtually has been the hardest on them because of where they are developmentally," said Kenney.

The classrooms look a bit different from the last time students were there.

The mayor said air purifiers will replace the window fans that have been installed in classrooms that did not have adequate ventilation.

Other safety measures put in place by the school district include:

-Mandatory mask-wearing or other facial covering, which will be provided to students and staff;

-Rapid testing for students and staff;

-New classroom setups and signage for social distancing;

-Touchless hand sanitizer stations;

-Plexiglass partitions;

-Maximum occupancy signs;

-Enhanced cleaning protocols and a COVID-19 testing program in place for students and staff.

Teachers are trained on new technology to help both in-school and remote learners, and rapid testing will be conducted for all staff and 20% of students each week.

On Monday, families emphasized the importance of being back inside the classroom.

"It helps them. It actually helps him be able to learn a little bit more than being all day on a computer," said Monica Garcia.

"Obviously, I want to keep them safe, but I don't want them to fall back," said parent Delaine Colon.

The district had said $65 million invested has been invested in measures to keep virus transmission low.

Hundreds of teachers have been getting vaccinated for the virus at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The district says getting a vaccine is not mandatory for employees to come back to work, however, it is highly recommended.

SEE ALSO: Vaccines now available for education workers in Philadelphia
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The City of Philadelphia's effort to vaccinate all teachers and other school employees has completed its second day.

45 schools allowed to reopen for students March 15

- A.L. Fitzpatrick School

- Abram Jenks School

- Alexander Adaire School

- Andrew Jackson School

- Benjamin B. Comegys School

- Benjamin Franklin School

- Charles W. Henry School

- D. Newlin Fell School

- Delaplaine McDaniel School

- Edwin M. Stanton School

- Eleanor C. Emlen School

- Ellwood School

- Francis Hopkinson School

- General George A. McCall School

- General George G. Meade School

- General Philip Kearney School

- Hamilton Disston School

- Haverford Center

- Horatio B. Hackett School

- James Logan School

- Jay Cooke Elementary School

- John B. Kelly School

- John M. Patterson School

- John Welsh School

- Joseph H. Brown School

- Kennedy C. Crossan School

- Lewis C. Cassidy School

- Louis H. Farrell School

- Morton McMichael School

- Philip H. Sheridan School

- Potter-Thomas School

- Rhawnhurst School

- Robert B. Pollock School

- Robert E. Lamberton Elementary School

- Rudolph Blankenburg School

- Samuel Pennypacker School

- Tanner Duckrey School

- Thomas Holme School

- Thomas M. Peirce School

- Vare-Washington Elementary School

- Widener Memorial School

- William Cramp School

- William D. Kelley School

- William Dick School

- William H. Hunter School
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