Philadelphia schools plan for return of in-person learning in January

District spokesperson Monica Lewis says the district has been in regular communication with the health department.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- School districts around the area are getting their back-to-school plans in place for January. As COVID-19 cases surge, some are hoping in-person learning can continue.

"They should return, I hope. Yes, I fully believe in that," said parent Alan Arnold.

But others disagree.

"I think it would be better if they stayed home," said parent Sonia Cruz. "Kids are still getting sick. They're not being cautious. They're not wearing masks. They're meeting up in big groups."

RELATED: Many concerned ahead of new year as COVID cases spread locally, nationally

Currently, the School District of Philadelphia plans to return to in-person learning.

"I think they need to close because this virus is crazy. It's everybody being around each other, spreading it all over, not enough testing going on. Yes, they need to close," said Overbrook High School parent Raekia Gonzalez.

District spokesperson Monica Lewis says the district has been in regular communication with the health department.

The district said mobile testing sites at six schools have remained open during winter break.

RELATED: School districts face tough decisions amid rise in COVID-19 cases

On Thursday morning, there was a line of people waiting to get COVID tests at the site outside Overbrook High School.

The school district asked everyone in their schools and offices to get tested before returning to schools to ensure they are COVID-free as part of a multi-tiered approach to safety.

In a letter sent home before winter break, Philadelphia's health commissioner noted the negative effects of prolonged pauses of in-person learning, adding that only a small fraction of COVID cases in Philadelphia schools resulted from the in-school spread.

The commissioner added that cases could be high for weeks or months, so a one to two-week pause is not expected to have an impact.

The commissioner acknowledged that the situation is evolving and cautioned families to remain flexible.

PFT President Jerry Jordan released a statement reading in part, "With omicron cases rising and woefully inadequate mitigation measures in place in our school buildings, it would be irresponsible for the District not to consider a return to virtual learning until such time as they can effectively, and with fidelity, solidify their mitigation measures."

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Montgomery County officials told Action News Thursday they will continue to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols within each school system.



In Pennsylvania, it is up to individual school districts to decide.

Montgomery County officials told Action News Thursday they will continue to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols within each school system.

Inevitably, parents are worried, but some feel their schools have a decent handle on the situation.

"The school does a good job with making sure the kids' masks are on. They offer testing at the schools. So, I'm concerned, but I feel a little confident in the school that they are handling it the right way," parent Kishana Hughes said.

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