The Philadelphia School District will begin returning children to classrooms Nov. 30, with children in grades PreK-2, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said in a letter sent to staff Tuesday.
The district plans a phased-in approach that “prioritizes the health and safety of our students and staff as well as the needs of our families while offering a mix of in-person and digital remote learning for students.”
Families can choose an all virtual option if they desire.
In the first phase of the plan, the district’s youngest learners will come back to their physical classrooms two days a week, learning remotely other days. Students will be in classrooms either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. All children will be remote on Wednesdays.
The district’s goal “as much as possible,” Hite said in the letter, “is for students to continue with their current teachers whether they choose hybrid or 100% digital learning.”
To that end, the district has spent $6 million in technology to allow teachers to livestream their lessons, teaching both in-class students and those learning virtually at the same time.
“We realize that some teachers may not be able to safely teach in person. In those cases, a different teacher from the school may be assigned,” Hite said.
Special education students in grades 3-12, career and technical education students and ninth graders will return in January, if all goes according to plan.
There was no immediate plan for when other students might come back to classrooms, and officials said the details were subject to change, given COVID-19 case counts and other factors.
Staff who work with K-2 children must report to school beginning Nov. 9, and other staff can report to schools then if they so choose.
“In-person learning opportunities will better meet the increasing needs of our students and families — and it’s the right thing to do,” the superintendent wrote. “But resuming in-person learning safely will challenge all of us in new ways.”
Hite is expected to announce further details to the plan Wednesday.