An Important Update About In-Person Learning and Communications Going Forward
Dear School District of Philadelphia Families and Staff,
The start to the 2022 new year has been challenging for us all. The Omicron variant caused a quick surge in COVID cases, which required all of us to be flexible as we worked to safely keep as many schools open for students as possible. Having so many of our educators and support staff isolating or quarantining challenged our District operations and the families we serve. We responded immediately by reviewing staffing data and updating you several times a day, recruiting more substitute teachers, and deploying hundreds of Central Office staff to schools. Ultimately, while we were forced to temporarily shift about 40% of our schools to virtual learning, we were able to keep the majority of our school buildings open for students. I am incredibly grateful for the educators who worked hard to pivot to virtual learning often with short notice, for the 440 staff who paused their day-to-day work to deploy to schools, for school-based staff who kept schools operating safely in person, and for everyone who safely isolated and quarantined at home when they wanted nothing more than to be in schools and offices supporting students and each other. And I deeply appreciate the flexibility and understanding of our students and families whenever virtual learning was necessary for everyone’s safety.
Early indicators from health professionals suggest that Omicron may be receding. To be clear, the pandemic is not over. There may still be times when we will need to temporarily shift schools to virtual learning for students due to COVID-related challenges, so we must all remain flexible. But for now, more than 93% of our schools are operating in person. We are hopeful that number will continue to improve until we can resume a more consistent in-person experience for all of our students.
Going forward, you will no longer receive messages three times a day. Instead, we will share important updates when available and inform you of any changes to in-person learning only if your child’s school is impacted. You will still be able to find the up-to-date list of schools that are temporarily providing virtual learning for students due to COVID-related challenges at philasd.org/covidupdates.
We continue to work closely with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) to strengthen our health and safety protocols whenever possible, and you will be receiving a message from PDPH next week regarding their latest COVID guidance for schools. In the meantime, please take care and continue to protect yourselves and others by getting fully vaccinated and boosted. You can find a School District vaccine event here or a city vaccine site near you here or at www.vaccines.gov.
Dr. William Hite