Parents want School District of Philadelphia to open in-person learning to all students

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some parents in Philadelphia are calling on the school district to prioritize bringing kids back into the classroom full time, saying the hybrid model has impacted learning.

The group tells Action News if other districts are back to in-person learning, then so should Philadelphia public schools.

The district says all students will return to the classroom, but just not this school year.

The group, representing over 30 schools in Philadelphia, says it wants more clarity about when all students will be allowed to return to in-person learning.

"The mayor, the city council, the district, the union and the health department, really need to work tougher to prioritize in-person education as soon as possible before the fall comes," said Priscilla Lo, a parent.

Currently, city schools are operating on a hybrid model under the district's Phase 2 plan. Students in grades K through 5 attend school two days a week and have three days of digital learning. Phase 3 will begin in May for grades 6 through 9.

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All other students will have to wait until next year. Some parents say the hybrid model has impacted learning.

"They are concerned that their child is going to fall even further behind, considering that other kids in the city are in school. To be clear, it is just public schools that are not back. Private and Parochial schools are back and nationally kids are back," said a parent named Jessica, who didn't want to give her last name.

The district is aware of the group's concerns and says its goal is to get all students back in the classroom as quickly and safely as possible.

"When the school year starts in the fall, Dr. Hite and his team want all students back in school for in-person learning because we do believe that learning in front of a teacher with your peers by your side is the best possible condition for our students," said District Spokesperson Monica Lewis.

District leaders say they always welcome input from parents and constantly provide updates on its website. Parents are also encouraged to fill out surveys to provide feedback on what they feel can be done better.

"We want to make sure parents understand their first point of contact, should always be their school," said Lewis.

For now, parents are anxiously awaiting to see what happens in the fall but with the pandemic, they still have reservations.

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"Many parents have reached out expressing the same concerns. They don't know what the fall looks like. They don't know how to plan," said Jessica.

The district says the phased system is the best for its schools and says it is working.

It reminds the graduating class of 2021 that they will be allowed to have in-person graduations and will also be provided with free caps and gowns.
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