Philadelphia school district and city leaders working to combat COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thursday marks one month since the stay-at-home order took effect in the city of Philadelphia. As coronavirus closures drag on, city leaders and the school district are making changes to the way they distribute meals to students and families in need.

"I begin today with some very sad news, I have to announce that another member of our city government and family has perished due to this terrible disease," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

Mayor Kenney says COVID-19 is still taking lives in the city and admits more testing must be done before restrictions are eased.

"The death of another city worker and almost 400 other Philadelphians who we've lost, is a stark reminder that one month in, the threat of this virus is still very much with us," said Mayor Kenney.

To help flatten the curve of COVID-19, the city is opening up more testing sites in underserved neighborhoods. This includes plans to open sites in Kensington and Hunting Park at the end of the month or in early May.

Mayor Kenney also promised new city sponsored food sites in Northeast Philadelphia beginning April 27, and new sites for the city's vulnerable population.

"Free weekly food deliveries are available to residents who are facing food insecurities and cannot leave their home due to a disability," said Mayor Kenney.

That program begins in May but those in need are encourage to sign up now, through the city's website.

The School District of Philadelphia is working to make sure all students have Chromebooks and are fed breakfast and lunch.

The free, grab and go meals will now be issued once a week instead of twice on Thursdays, from 9 a.m. until noon. Families will be issued a box, containing five breakfast meals and five lunch meals.

On the learning front, so far, the school district has issued about 75,000 Chromebooks and is now working on hot spot services for those in need.

"It's on a case by case basis, it's going to start with our most needy families," said Superintendent, Dr. William Hite. "We don't have many and we don't think we are going to be able to get many. Maybe, if we're lucky, we could get a couple of thousand."

On May 4th, the school district will begin taking attendance and grading assignments. The city says it has not had to furlough any workers, and working with SEPTA to make sure workers are safe and that an agreement is reached to prevent a worker walkout.

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