Dear Families & Students,
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has released its newly revised guidance on school reopening which — like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — prioritizes the safe return of all students to in-person learning with multiple safety layers in place. Our commitment to you is to meet or exceed this guidance to help safeguard everyone’s health and wellbeing as we welcome all students back to school for in-person learning five days a week on Tuesday, August 31st.
This School Year At-A-Glance shares what you can expect when schools reopen. Here are some highlights:
- Masking – Everyone must wear a mask or other approved facial covering while indoors, whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
- COVID-19 Testing for Staff – We will continue our mandatory weekly testing for all employees and may adapt during the year.
- COVID-19 Testing for Students – We will make Onsite testing will be available for students who have COVID-like symptoms during the day. We will also follow a Test to Stay model: Close contacts of positive cases will be tested at least 3 non-consecutive days within the first 7 days following exposure. Those who remain negative during the testing may stay in school and not have to quarantine. Positive cases must isolate for at least 10 days.
- Continuity of Learning – Students who are quarantining or isolating will receive instructional support while at home.
- Athletes – We will follow a Test to Play/Perform Model: Athletes who play high risk sports and performing arts (band and choir) will be tested 1-2 times a week. Vaccinated athletes and performing arts students may opt out of weekly testing with proof of vaccination.
- Physical Distancing – while3 feet distancing is recommended and will be encouraged where possible, the priority from both the CDC and PDPH is the full return of students to school with multiple layers of safety in place.
As I’ve shared before, every school will also have air and surface purifiers, touchless hand sanitizer stations, and touchless hydration stations.
We are excited and ready to safely welcome all students back to school for in-person learning, some for the first time in more than 18 months. Having them back in person and surrounding them with caring educators and critical supports is the best way to help them begin to heal, grow and re-engage in the social environments that are critical to their development.
Students and families with extenuating circumstances who want to remain virtual may enroll in the School District of Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA). It’s important to understand that PVA is very different from the virtual learning students have experienced since March 2020. PVA students will not remain enrolled in or receive instruction from teachers in their current school. They will engage in 100% independent learning on their own schedule using learning resources provided by an assigned teacher. Instead of participating in in-person athletic or extra-curricular activities at their current school, students will participate in the extra-curricular activities offered by PVA. Parents/families interested in PVA can visit philasd.org/pva to learn more and complete a PVA Intake Form. The two-week PVA enrollment window for the 2021-2022 school year is Monday, August 2nd through Friday, August 13. I encourage any family interested in this virtual option to carefully consider all information as they determine the best choice for their child.
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia