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Can schools stay open during the COVID-19 surge? | Morning Newsletter

And, a mother who fell victim to a high-profile instance of police force speaks.

James Crisfield, Wissahickon School District Superintendent of Schools, shown here outside the administrative office, Thursday, September 3, 2020.  JESSICA GRIFFIN  / Staff Photographer
James Crisfield, Wissahickon School District Superintendent of Schools, shown here outside the administrative office, Thursday, September 3, 2020. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff PhotographerRead moreJESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

Good morning.

First: The new state rules Pennsylvania rolled out recently that require public schools to close their doors when they hit a certain COVID-19 positivity test rate have some officials confused. Let’s look at what’s been happening so far.

Then: The mother from the October video that captured police officers yanking her from her SUV and separating her from her 2-year-old toddler in West Philly is still navigating the aftermath. We spoke to her about what happened that night — and what she’s contending with now.

And: These are the latest case counts for the coronavirus in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_ashleyhoffman,

The well-being of students has been one of the more tumultuous predicaments of the pandemic. Now that there are new state rules when it comes to managing the school systems in the pandemic, once a school of a certain size hits a certain COVID-19 case count threshold, it is forced to shut for in-person learning and go fully virtual.

As another surge threatens the state, this could effectively push students out of school on short notice. Officials have plenty of questions. Do the cases count when students learning remotely test positive? What’s the time frame for cases to “count”? Reporter Maddie Hanna has the story.

Rickia Young and her 2-year-old remain traumatized after becoming high-profile victims of police force in a widely shared video that shows she was beaten and separated from her 2-year-old son by police.

The night of the shooting and killing of Walter Wallace Jr. by police in West Philadelphia, two dozen officers charged Young’s SUV and yanked her and her 16-year-old nephew out of the vehicle. People the world over saw what happened on video. Both suffered injuries. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw called it “concerning.” But with the ongoing investigation, we still don’t know from police what preceded this use of force.

The first time Young asked where police were taking her 2-year-old, she said no one would answer. Another time, an officer said “a better place.” His grandmother was able to retrieve him an hour later, but not without controversy surrounding a photo of him.

Neither Young nor her nephew has been charged with a crime. She wants every officer who was involved fired. Reporter Anna Orso spoke to Young about what she’s been enduring.

Helpful COVID-19 resources

  1. Check the current coronavirus-related restrictions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  2. Are you seeing people again after having COVID-19? Read our checklist first.

  3. Can you travel this winter? Should you? Is it safe to travel? By plane? By car?

  4. What are the first symptoms of the coronavirus and what are the differences in COVID-19, the flu, a common cold, and allergies?

  5. Face masks: Everything you need to know about buying, washing, replacing, and wearing one.

  6. Track the spread of COVID-19 infections in the region.

  7. Sign up to get free coronavirus news updates in your inbox three times a week.

What you need to know today

  1. The vaccine picture is coming into focus, but we have a ways to go on the path to recovery. And it’s still too early to look at Thanksgiving’s effect on the coronavirus numbers, but here are the latest case counts in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

  2. DUI crashes and arrests in the Philadelphia region were in keeping with last year’s numbers despite COVID-19 restrictions.

  3. The state auditor general confirms key deficiencies we reported on in continuous spring investigations about botched coronavirus efforts at a veterans’ nursing home, and he calls on Gov. Wolf to finish the investigation.

  4. A man and woman were hospitalized in critical condition after an armed confrontation with police turned violent inside a home in Northeast Philadelphia this week, police said yesterday.

  5. This is the reason New Jersey’s housing is the most vulnerable in the United States, according to a new study.

  6. SEPTA has an update on its ambitious $2 billion project that would lengthen rail service to reach busy King of Prussia.

  7. A skateboarding teacher is facing charges as two men say the longtime area skating-scene fixture sexually assaulted them when they were young boys.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

That William Penn just stays standing tall. Thanks for sharing this shot from an excellent vantage point,

Share Your Photos: 2020 was a year unlike any other — and we want to see what it looked like through your lens. Tag your Instagram photos with #OurPhilly by Friday, Dec. 4, for a chance to be a part of our Year in Pictures. Our photographers will pick their favorites to feature in a community gallery on And as always, tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout-out!

That’s interesting

  1. 🎄 It’s tree-trimming time. Who’s putting up a tree this year? Here’s where you can get your Christmas tree delivered with at-home setup or contact-free delivery options. And here’s where you can cut your own tree down in farms near Philly.

  2. 🎁 This is the kind of holiday celebration a mother who’s cancer-free now wants to have, even if she can’t sing carols with her family.

  3. 😷 We had 5 questions for a dedicated, immunocompromised contact tracer who’s learned a few things about what happens when people test positive for COVID-19.

  4. 🍦 Van Leeuwen (pronounced Van Lewin) Ice Cream is coming to Center City Philly, just the latest cultish Manhattan-based spot to open a Philly location, and it has some of the best cookie dough, along with rare flavors.

  5. 🏘️ Is a humanoid tea party in front of a house magical or creeptastical? Over the last decade, not everyone agrees. See the legendary Delaware County lawn displays that could be the backdrop of your holiday card photo shoot.


“A vaccine is only as good as its uptake. That means policymakers and public health professionals need to start planning now to make sure the vaccine reaches all Americans — and in particular, that people of color, who have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic, are able and willing to get vaccinated early.” — Michelle A. Williams, dean of the faculty at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, propose a concrete blueprint to ensure the vaccine reaches everyone by rebuilding trust in Black and Latinx Americans communities where the distrust of medicine among members of communities of color has left deep, justified wounds.

  1. A new homeowner protection law would crack down on predatory wholesalers nabbing homes from their unsuspecting owners at a fraction of their real value, The Inquirer Editorial Board writes.

  2. Benjamin Palubinsky, general manager of Lucky Strike Philadelphia, writes that the pandemic will have one loss even the most devoted patrons may have missed: the institutional knowledge these training grounds provide. He warns that the loss of this knowledge won’t be so simple to flip back on.

What we’re reading

  1. It’s not uncommon to get a serious case of SAD in winter, so the Telegraph compiled a list of things you can do to hibernate the healthy way.

  2. WHYY put some feelers out, and it looks as if the city’s major universities won’t be following suit when it comes to University of Pennsylvania’s $100 million contribution to the School District of Philadelphia.

  3. Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to shutter overall during this pandemic, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Philadelphia Tribune reports that the tourism agency Visit Philadelphia has unveiled a new push with an eye toward supporting Black- and brown-owned businesses during the holiday season.

Your Daily Dose of | Memories

Restaurants are about livelihood for the people who work on the front lines to feed us, and they’re so often the setting for life’s milestones. Under ordinary circumstances, many of us celebrate some of our best moments of our lives over food at a restaurant table. Holiday get-togethers alone usually bolster the restaurant industry, which is one reason why this winter’s looking dismal for closures. And some of them might not be “temporary.”

Losing your neighborhood spot or where you go for romance can feel monumental. And to that end, we’re inviting you to tell us about the bars and restaurants you will miss most with a memory (or a few). Your recollection can be epic or short and sweet. The easy form is right here.