Summer Work to Support Healthy & Safe In-Person Learning
July 14, 2021
Hello School District of Philadelphia Parents, Families and Students,
I hope you are enjoying a fun and relaxing summer. I’m writing to let you know that we are hard at work preparing to welcome our students back to school for in-person learning, five days a week, beginning Tuesday, August 31, 2021 — the first day of school.
The health and wellbeing of our students and staff remains our highest priority. That’s why throughout the summer, we are:
- Installing an air and surface purifier in every instructional space in every school
These state-of-the-art purifiers are based on technology developed by NASA and are proven to dramatically reduce contaminants in the air and on surfaces.
- Cleaning and sanitizing every school
This includes all walls, floors, furniture, doors, windows, bathrooms, railings, and more. Once school starts, crews will clean during the school day and for several hours after the school day ends.
- Testing the more than 1,000 touchless hydration stations in our schools
We want to be sure they are fully operational and comply with all regulations for safe drinking water.
- Maintaining touchless hand sanitizer stations
We’ll be refilling stations in every school and ensuring all schools have the supplies they need to support frequent hand washing by students and staff.
- Continuing to remove asbestos from our schools
We’ve removed the equivalent of more than 20 miles of asbestos-containing materials from our schools since last summer. Now, we are actively removing more of these materials from 35 schools where environmental and capital projects are underway.
- Investing more than $160 million to complete major school construction, renovations and repairs
This includes replacing roofs, upgrading electrical systems, improving classrooms, replacing heating and ventilation systems, completing construction on two new school buildings, and more.
The big question everyone is asking is: what health and safety measures will be required when school reopens? On July 9th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools, which prioritizes the safe return of all students to in-person learning with multiple safety layers in place. The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health are currently reviewing the CDC’s guidance along with local COVID-19 conditions. They haven’t issued new updated safety guidance for Philadelphia schools yet but they are committed to doing so soon. We will update you when they do.
A lot more work is happening this summer, and we’ll be sharing information regularly so you can be as confident and excited about your child’s return to in-person learning as we are. You can also visit philasd.org/ringthebell for the latest updates.
In the meantime, please take care and enjoy the summer!
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia