'Zoom bombings,' concerns about leveling at forefront of Phila. Schools reopening

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After the first week of virtual schooling in the Philadelphia School District, parents and students are still struggling with the adjustment.

"They hate it," said Southwest Philadelphia parent Whonda Anderson. "They want to go to school with their friends."

In a weekly press briefing, Superintendent Dr. William Hite said the district has dealt with three "Zoom bombing" incidents since the start of school. A "Zoom bombing" is when a student disrupts another virtual class, sometimes at a different school, as a prank.

"I want to be clear, we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and anyone participating in these Zoom pranks will be held accountable for their actions," said Dr. Hite.

Now some teachers and parents are concerned about talks of leveling. While its not new, the school district is considering moving students to different classrooms and teachers to different schools based off of enrollment numbers.

Hite says nothing is set in stone, it's just a consideration.

But Sharahn Santana, 12th grade English teacher at Parkway Northwest High School, said it's best to disregard any talks of leveling while students are learning virtually.

"There's so much instability and this is so new, people have so many questions, parents are unsure what it looks like, and then to move a child or teacher to a new school and have to relearn another school community's virtual plan, it's a lot for a teacher and a student," Santana said.

In a statement, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said:

"We have not been presented with any proposed changes to the leveling process, and therefore we are unable to comment on Dr. Hite's remarks at this morning's press conference. Any change to the leveling process would have to be discussed with the Federation, as it is a negotiated item intended to mitigate oversized classes. As always, the Federation continues to advocate for lower class sizes. Particularly in light of the challenges presented by the pandemic and remote learning, small class sizes make sense."

RELATED: Philadelphia students can get back to school help at Access Centers
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ACCESS CENTERS: Registration is required for Philadelphia students in Kindergarten through 6th grade to use the Access Centers.



Some students told Action News they prefer the virtual learning.

"It's been good; it's been fun," said 12th grader Terrance Mickey. "I mean it's easier because I don't have as many classes as I did last year so it's been easier."

Dr. Hite said the most underutilized resource that parents should take advantage of are the dozens of access centers across the city. Working parents with no childcare options can drop their children off at the centers, where they can continue learning virtually while supervised.

Locations for the centers can be found at https://www.phila.gov/programs/access-centers/.
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