PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia School District has updated its plan to bring students back for in-person instruction.
In Thursday morning's briefing, Superintendent, Dr. William Hite was joined by Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.
Both admitted that while the risk is not zero, in terms of COVID, they say it is important for kids to return to in-person learning in some capacity.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced 399 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city on Wednesday. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 45,981.
Last week, parents of children in Pre-K through 2nd grade were able to choose if their child would remain all virtual going forward or would switch to the newly offered hybrid model.
Dr. Hite said out of the about 30,000 kids in that group of students, 10,000 will be returning to the hybrid model.
He stressed that parents will still have the option to keep kids virtual if they are not comfortable with in-person learning.
Dr. Farley said there are about 95 parochial schools open and there have been no major outbreaks.
District leaders said if outbreaks increase in Philadelphia things could always change but for now, they want to see students back in the classroom.
"Currently, we acknowledge that there is some risk in schools but we believe that risk can be minimized with the correct safety precautions and we do think, that the value of in-person education, especially for young children is so important, that is justifies doing that," said Farley.
In hybrid learning, there will be three groups and students will have in-person instruction a few days a week:
A Students, who attend in-person learning on Monday and Tuesday;
B Students, who attend in-person learning on Thursday and Friday;
and 100% digital students.
On Wednesdays, all students learn remotely.
Teachers will deliver in-person instruction to the one group, and live stream to the other two groups at the same time.
The district said it is starting with the youngest students for the hybrid learning plan because "research supports that they benefit most from in-person learning."
Students with complex needs in 3rd through 9th grade would be phased in sometime in January.
Students in 9th grade and CTE students would follow next at a time yet to be determined.
Other grades would be phased in, based on conditions, over the following weeks.