It’s gonna be a hot one. The Philly area could hit 100 degrees on Monday. 🥵 The record for the date of July 20 was set in 1930 at 99 degrees.

And this week, Philly released its plans for getting kids back to school in person. We chatted with education reporter Kristen Graham to learn more about what parents should know.

The week ahead

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Behind the story with Kristen Graham

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with education reporter Kristen Graham on the Philadelphia School District’s reopening plan.

So, what’s the latest on the school reopening plan?

Philly is planning to re-open with a hybrid model, with most kids in face-to-face classes two days a week (some students with complex special needs will attend four days a week). For the rest of the time, students will be learning remotely, at home. The start of the school year will also likely be moved back two days, to Sept. 2, to give teachers time for more professional development to figure out how to manage a year that promises to be unlike any other. And of course, this is the plan as we understand it right now — it could change depending on COVID-19 conditions.

What are you hearing in terms of reactions? Do educators think this will be more or less helpful than virtual learning?

I am hearing a lot of angst about the plan, from parents, from teachers and from those who follow education closely. Folks are concerned about safety, about childcare, about equity and more. No one disputes that the vast majority of children learn best in a face-to-face setting. Everyone wants to be back in school. But by and large, the educators I’ve spoken to say they would rather go all virtual until the coronavirus calms down. Though many parents, especially essential workers and folks in vulnerable populations, fear what that would mean in terms of further learning loss for kids.

What are you hearing about safety concerns? Can parents opt their kids out of in-person learning?

Safety concerns are at the top of everyone’s mind, for sure. Philadelphia parents do have the option to select a 100% virtual school experience for their children. And yes, the district will be lending Chromebooks again.

What is one thing parents need to know right now?

The one thing parents need to know: this is all fluid. The mayor, the superintendent, and the commissioner of health have made clear that the rapidly changing public health situation could mean schools go all-virtual again. Some buildings could shut to contain outbreaks. We have guidance right now, and it could be different guidance next week or next month.

Why did you become a journalist? What is something you wish more people better understood about your job?

I became a journalist because I can’t imagine a more fun or impactful way to make a living. I get to ask hard questions and help explain the world to people, and that never stops being interesting. And as a graduate of the Philadelphia School District myself (Fox Chase Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Middle, Northeast High), I think I have the best beat at the paper, hands down. Education is the engine that fuels everything else and yes, more than a decade into covering Philly schools, I am still genuinely this excited about what I do.

The things that I wish people understood better about my job are: a) I’m a parent, too, and as I write about coronavirus back-to-school plans/distance learning, I am keenly aware of the challenges folks on all sides are facing — this is my wheelhouse in more ways than one. And b) real talk, if I’m interviewing you these days, I apologize for the 7- and 4-year-old who may be shouting in the background. My co-workers can be noisy!

Email Kristen Graham at and follow her on Twitter at @newskag.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

This view is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this great shot of the outdoors, @nickjmalf!

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!

How to do a DIY Broad Street Run

The Broad Street Run won’t be happening this year because of the coronavirus. But you can still take part. Organizers are encouraging would-be participants to do their own version of the run instead — with social distancing, of course. You can run the 10-mile length of the course, record yourself and submit your results. You’ll have to use your own route though. Here are a few ideas to get you started. (And if running isn’t your thing, here’s a list of outdoor fitness classes in the Philly area.)

What we’re…

  • Eating: French Toast Bites. It’s breakfast for dinner at this new stand coming to Spruce Street Harbor Park.
  • Watching: John Lewis: Good Trouble. This bio-pic documentary was released a couple weeks before his death and tells the story of the civil rights activist’s life.
  • Exploring: day trip destinations. Looking to get out? We have a list of 12 offbeat spots near Philly.
  • Listening to: Pop Smoke’s new album. Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon is the fourth posthumously released rap album to enter the Billboard pop chart at No. 1.

Comment of the week

“Jelly!! I frequently stop at the little cafe across from this RV community and I’ve wondered what it was like to have a place there. It’s so cute and tidy. Enjoy Ardino family!” — smokeenhot on A Jersey Shore summer retreat where ‘all the stress disappears.'

Your Daily Dose of | Rock camp

She Rock She Rock started in 2007 because Jenny Case was trying to put together an all-female band and wasn’t having much luck. Now, 14 years later, the camp serves girls, trans, and nonbinary youth, ages 9 to 18. And this summer the camp has gone all virtual, with sessions focused on rock history, writing songs, learning studio technology, examining social justice and more.