More Philly-area schools go virtual as COVID cases continue to surge

From December 4, 2021, through January 1, 2022, cases among 16-17-year-olds skyrocketed 102%, data shows.
BROOMALL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Schools across the Philadelphia region continue to pivot as COVID-19 cases climb.

The surge has forced some school districts to go back to virtual learning, which is receiving both criticism and praise from those being impacted.

The Marple Newtown School District announced through an email that virtual learning will be in effect for the remainder of the week due to staffing shortages caused by the virus.

The move sent some parents scrambling when they got wind of the plan.

"Last night I was scrambling and I had to take off after all of my winter breaks, so it's really stressful. It's just hard for working parents that don't do virtual," said Macey Much of Newtown Square.

The latest data from the CDC shows that it's not only teachers and staff in Pennsylvania coming down with COVID, but students as well.

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Walmart announced Tuesday it has temporarily closed two local stores.

From December 4, 2021 through January 1, 2022, cases among 16 to 17-year-olds skyrocketed 102% -- from 66.4 cases per 100,000 students to 134.6.

"To be honest with you, I'm really glad that we're going virtual for the time being cause I was terrified to send her back right now. It's not only COVID, it's everything else with all of the people gathering, it's scary," said parent Kiki Kara Mitopolous of Broomall.

Other suburban school districts in the five-county region including Upper Darby are planning to remain open for in-person instruction for the time being.

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The change remains in place through at least Friday, January 7.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association for the southeastern region, which represents some 15,000 teachers and other staff across 30 school districts in Delaware and Chester counties, has been monitoring the situation.

"Really, it's unique to every single school environment. You can't say that there is like one silver bullet, one shoe fits all kind of solution," said Zeek Weil, the regional coordinator for PSEA.

The Philadelphia School District now has 92 schools that have moved to a virtual learning plan after a spike in last-minute COVID-related staffing shortages.

The pivot is being slammed by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as an "outrageous 11th-hour plan."

"The entire school system should not have open for children and staff until the district and the union is able to assess the school buildings and to make sure that the buildings are safe for children and for staff," said union president Jerry Jordan.
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