"Really that's the only option. If we don't have enough staff in schools, we can't open the school and operate it safely for students," explained Monica Lewis, a spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia.
The list of the 99 schools that will shift to virtual can be found here.
The School District of Philadelphia is just one of many districts in a tough spot due to COVID-19.
GOING VIRTUAL: 80+ schools are now temporarily shifting to virtual learning. The School District of Philadelphia says they can’t operate a school safely if not enough staff and teachers are there.— Bryanna Gallagher (@BGallagherTV) January 9, 2022
Staffing shortages are related to COVID call outs. @6abc https://t.co/9dJeo4sNOQ
On Friday, medical experts at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said preserving as much in-person instruction for kids outweighs the risks of COVID infection at this stage of the pandemic.
However, some parents tell Action News they're glad administrators made the switch to go virtual.
"You can't have people sitting on top of people and then they cough or anything like that," said Ada Buttler.
One father said it's no different for his kids to learn in person or online.
"I agree with that, of course, safety is number one," said Ping Oei.
SEE ALSO: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Importance of in-school learning outweighs risks of COVID
Another parent told Action News that his daughter's school was doing a great job at trying to keep kids healthy, but he made the call to keep his child home before the district then switched her school to virtual.
"Especially with the young children, they don't know they're touching each other, coughing, speaking in each other's faces. I just don't feel comfortable," said Zak Aslam.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers also updated its COVID safety demands, stressing they want to pause in-person learning until a better plan is developed. They also want adequate PPE, more testing, and more vaccine programs.
Lewis hopes schools that are virtual this week will be able to return to in-person next week and to eventually be back in person to finish out the school year.
"It is our intention to have as many children as possible learn in person. So if a school can be open because there's sufficient staff there, then that school will be opened," Lewis explained.
The district says they will continue to update parents at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily. If changes are made overnight, they will send that info out at 6 a.m.
Principals will communicate directly with students and families with information regarding virtual instruction.