Posted on February 5, 2021
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Categories: News from Our Superintendent, News from SDP

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On Monday, we welcome our PreK-2 teachers and school-based staff back to schools so they can engage in professional development to further strengthen their instructional skills and help prepare their classrooms so we can slowly and carefully begin phasing in our PreK-2 students to in-person learning for the first time in nearly a year. These staff are joining the hundreds of principals, building engineers and other facilities and maintenance staff, transportation and food service staff who have been safely working in schools since spring of 2020 to put in place the many health and safety layers that are proven to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission low when followed — from personal protective equipment for all students and staff, new classroom and bathroom setups for social distancing, and plexiglass partitions in offices to touchless hand sanitizer and hydration stations, safety signage, ventilation testing in all schools, and repairs, enhancements and retesting where needed.

Our facilities and maintenance team had to pause their work for a few days to prepare for the snow storm earlier this week and to safely clear our campuses of the more than five inches of snow it left behind. The delivery of PPE and other signage from our warehouses to some schools was also delayed due to the storm. Building engineers have now resumed their work inside schools and deliveries of PPE and other safety signage are expected to be completed by early next week. My senior leaders and I have also completed school walkthroughs this week to help identify and report any remaining health and safety preparations needed before students return to schools on Monday, February 22. My commitment to you is that if a room is not ready, we will not use it. If a school is not ready, we will not open it.

We continue to work with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on rapid testing plans for students and staff, and for all District staff to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Once vaccines are available, we will activate school sites across the city so our staff, in phases, can easily and conveniently get vaccinated if they so choose.

We’ve been contacted by lots of PreK-2 families who originally selected to remain virtual but are now interested in the hybrid learning model. Please know that we are working on the registration process and will share information as soon as we have worked through the details. As I’ve said many times before, the health and well-being of everyone in our schools is and remains our highest priority as we slowly and carefully reopen our school doors to students and staff for the first time in almost a year. It won’t be perfect. Nothing ever is. But by working together, with everyone doing their part, we can do this safely.

Sincerely,

William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
The School District of Philadelphia