Statement from Dr. Hite
It is deeply disappointing that PFT has directed its members to disregard the District’s plan to return staff to buildings in preparation for the return of PreK-2 students on February 22nd. This is in violation of our collective bargaining agreement and the Memorandum of Agreement that the PFT reached regarding the reopening of schools just a few months ago. What is more troubling is that this action directly impacts our efforts to support the more than 9,000 PreK-2 families who want their children to return to school buildings for in-person learning, beginning Monday, Feb. 22.
Last week, PreK-2 families were informed that instructional schedules would be modified for the next two weeks to allow teachers time to set up their classrooms and begin receiving training on health and safety practices as well as new technology to support hybrid instruction. These modified schedules will remain as previously communicated by each school.
We have been working tirelessly since spring 2020 to put in place numerous layers of safety, as recommended by the CDC and Health Department, to protect the health and well-being of everyone in our buildings. Many staff have been working on site for months in our buildings. Our custodial, maintenance and facilities staff have been making repairs and putting health and safety measures in place to prepare our buildings. Our food distribution center sites have been up and running for 11 months with staff serving students and families every day in our buildings. PFT’s suggestion that teachers and other staff should not report to these same buildings to also support the needs of our students and families perpetuates inequities that we find unacceptable.
We remain committed to doing everything we can to move forward with the slow and careful return to in-person learning, and hope the mediation process will begin soon so we can all focus our full attention on supporting the needs of our students and families.
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia