Philadelphia school leaders pivot, now propose all-virtual learning into November

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia school officials say they are now proposing changes to the reopening plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

On Tuesday in a letter to parents and families, Superintendent Dr. William Hite says leaders are proposing that students start the year online, with classes being held virtually through the first marking period, which ends November 17.

"Students would then transition to the hybrid learning model as long as guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and other indicators support it is still safe to do so," Hite said.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, says many of his 13,000 members expressed worries coming back to school due to the coronavirus.

"I think the superintendent made the right decision and our members feel much more relieved," said Jordan.

In the letter, Hite said the pandemic is forcing school leaders to make difficult decisions and they are working to keep everyone safe.

"All of the decisions we are making due to the COVID-19 pandemic are difficult ones with no obvious answers for how to account for the many, and often competing needs of our students, staff and families. We continue to thoughtfully weigh our fundamental responsibility to meet the many educational needs of our students while also supporting everyone's safety and well-being and considering all of the input and feedback we've received at Board meetings and through surveys, town halls and online," Hite said.

Those sentiments were being echoed by parents and grandparents as well.

"I don't think it's safe for the kids to go back to school just yet, so I'm glad they made that decision," said Tykedia Harvey of West Philadelphia.

"I think homeschooling will be safe so they won't get the coronavirus," said Dakea Hairston of West Oak Lane.

The Board of Education will consider the proposed changes at its meeting on Thursday.

If approved, implementation of the revised plan would begin immediately.

Hite plans to hold a press briefing Wednesday at noon to expand on his proposal.
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