Posted on February 22, 2021
Categories: News from SDP

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February 22, 2021

Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,

I want to update you on why I continue to believe we are ready to start reopening our schools for in-person learning, starting on March 1 with PreK-2 students whose families selected hybrid learning.

As I’ve shared before, we have worked closely with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to develop a multi-layered approach to protect everyone who enters our schools. Our plans include:

  1. Rapid Testing for Students – Each week, school nurses will administer rapid testing to 20% of all students learning in person as well as students who are unable to wear a face mask or remain socially distanced due to a health condition or disability. Students who display COVID-like symptoms during the school day will be tested immediately. Learn more about our student testing plan at;
  2. Rapid Testing for Staff – All on-site employees will be required to take a COVID test each week once in-person learning begins;
  3. COVID-19 Vaccinations for Staff – Assisted by CHOP, we are already booking appointments for student-facing staff who choose to get vaccinated, and vaccinations start today;
  4. Other Layers of Safety – All staff and students must wear masks or other facial covering, which will be provided for them. New classroom setups and signage will promote social distancing. Touchless hand sanitizer stations, cleaning supply stations, maximum occupancy signs, and enhanced cleaning protocols are also in place;
  5. Hotlines – Parents with questions can contact us weekdays from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at 215-400-5300 (English) or find other languages here; and
  6. Open Houses – tours are available upon request for every school we plan to re-open. Simply contact your child’s school for details.

Last week, CHOP’s Policy Lab Director Dr. David Rubin testified at a City council hearing about the Science of COVID & In-person Learning, New CDC Guidelines for Reopening Schools, Ventilation and more. He said, “All told, the conclusion that we have reached – in the face of falling transmission, strong safety plans, and the addition of a strong assurance testing program – is that the window of opportunity has opened for returning more children to the classroom . . .”

The science is clear. We can safely reopen our schools, following the lead of many of the nation’s largest school districts. We will continue to seek common ground in the mediation process toward this goal.


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