School District of Philadelphia still considering options for opening schools

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- We are in the middle of the Summer, but anxious parents and children can't help but wonder what will happen with schools in the Fall. The School District of Philadelphia is still considering options.

"Education as we know it, we will be reading about it in the history books," said Lonnie Mathews of East Falls.

Just what school will look this Fall, in the midst of COVID-19 remains a mystery. For now, The School District of Philadelphia, plans to reopen and thousands of parents, students, staff and community members, responded to a survey about what they believe a return to the classroom should look like. Of course, safety, is a major concern.

"Just concerns of how they are actually going to do this in the school building and how they are going to follow the CDC guidelines. I am not sure how that is going to go but I guess we will see," said Naja Barksdale of Conshohocken.

According to the district's survey, the top three safety measures for all respondent groups were mask wearing, daily building cleaning, and hand washing or hand sanitizer stations.

"I think honestly a lot of things will open upon anticipation that it will be okay but I have a feeling that by the time Christmas, even Thanksgiving rolls around, that we will probably be back in our houses and school will be back to being on Zoom," said Tyler Briscoe of West Philadelphia.

Superintendent, Dr. William Hite says the upcoming school year could have a variety of scenarios including in-person learning, remote learning and a hybrid of both plans. Over 80 percent of those who completed the survey, wanted to see a system that allowed students to come to cool on alternate days, in shifts.

"I am not worried about getting sick because they are telling us we have to wear masks," Sharief Lewis of West Philadelphia.

"I think going back to school would be fun," said Zion Howard of North Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers also conducted a survey on reopening school in the Fall. There was no one overall agreement, but most of those who responded, say they prefer a hybrid scenario, that would include classes partially online and partially in person.

"Of course if we see numbers starting to rise or if people are coming down with the virus, obviously you are going to have to change the mechanism of teaching again and go back to virtual learning," said Dani Berkowitz of Bala Cynwyd.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says it supports safely bringing kids back to the classroom this Fall. It adds that schools are fundamental to child development and well-being.

Dealing with COVID-19 and returning to school, will pose a challenge for parents, as they try to balance work-life, with their kid's school life, especially if it involves at home, virtual learning.

The School District of Philadelphia Survey: https://www.philasd.org/coronavirus/schoolstart2020/reopeningsurvey/

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Survey: https://pft.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/PFTReopening2_June292020.pdf
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