Students in the Philadelphia region should go all-virtual starting next week, CHOP PolicyLab says

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Thursday, November 12, 2020
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Virtual learning should start next week, the PolicyLab said, and communities should be prepared for the possibility it continues into the new year.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Experts with the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are recommending all students in areas with "rapidly accelerating" COVID transmission rates revert to online learning as soon as next week.

That includes the Philadelphia region.

The recommendation was delivered as part of a wide-ranging report about preparations for the holiday season.

The online learning should start on Nov. 16 and should continue until about seven to 10 days after Thanksgiving, the PolicyLab said.

However, communities should be prepared for the possibility of virtual learning into the new year.

RELATED: Philadelphia School District delays return of hybrid learning

"There might be a brief period for students to return to the classroom in December between holidays, but in areas now beset with runaway transmission, they would likely opt to continue virtually until January," the PolicyLab said.

That move should be "prioritized for students in middle and high school."

"While we have seen increasing infection rates among child care and elementary-aged youth, their relative contribution to community burden of infection remains small," the PolicyLab said.

Terry Davis of King of Prussia said, "It's not cool. They shouldn't be going to class right now."

Not only does he agree, his son's school only offers in-person learning.

"If my son is going to school every day and he contracts COVID, he's bringing it to me and my wife," said Davis.

Experts say it is likely students were initially exposed outside of school, and the concern now shifts to in-school transmission.

"We assume that Halloween weekend events led to many breaches in social distancing, fostering rapid viral transmission between children, teens and adults," the PolicyLab said.

Local nurse Kelly Ellis says her hospital is filling up.

"I knew this was going to happen. We have like a whole unit that's a COVID floor, that was down but now filled again. They took four of our beds out of the burn center because that's filling up," said Ellis.

RELATED: Montgomery County schools may go all-virtual

The PolicyLab said there is reason to hope students could return to the classroom shortly after the holidays.

"While youth are clearly contributing to the spread of this virus, we do need to rally around the likelihood that while in-school transmission is happening, it's far less than in other sectors of society. That knowledge could help us to return even more students to the classroom after the new year, and potentially many to full in-school instruction by the spring, once the strain on our hospitals is relieved."

Read the full report at


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