The School District’s Mask Mandate Will End on Wednesday March 9th
March 8, 2022
Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has confirmed that starting Wednesday, March 9th mask wearing will be optional for all School District students and staff, except those in our PreK Head Start programs. Masking will still be required for all PreK Head Start students and staff, as required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Our number one priority remains safely keeping our students in school, full time and in person where we know they learn best and we recognize that this includes a responsibility to move our School District community closer to a sense of normalcy, as COVID-19 conditions allow. We know that vaccines are the best protection against the spread of coronavirus. Right now 86% of School District staff are fully vaccinated and PDPH reports that more than 75% of Philadelphians over the age of 12 are too. And over the past several weeks, COVID-19 case counts in Philadelphia have remained consistently low.
Here’s what you need to know and what we should expect from each other as a caring and inclusive community:
- Optional masking – starting March 9th, students and staff can choose whether or not they want to wear a mask in our schools and offices. Some will continue to wear them while others will not. Please thoughtfully consider your personal situation and family circumstances, and do what is best for you or your child – and respect everyone else’s right to do the same, even if their choice differs from yours.
- Maintaining healthy schools and offices – This takes all of us continuing to do our part. Hand sanitizing stations and personal hygiene signage will remain in all schools as our facilities team works to support clean and healthy buildings. And it’s critical that families continue to follow all other health and safety measures such as: keeping your child home if they are sick; getting them tested if they are showing COVID-like symptoms; quarantining them if they’ve tested positive for coronavirus; and promptly reporting positive COVID-19 test results to your school nurse or email them to email@example.com. Symptomatic students will continue to be tested in schools, and free testing for students, parents and guardians is available at any of the District’s mobile testing sites. And remember, you can now sign up to get four more free at-home COVID-19 tests at gov. You can also find a vaccination site near you here or at www.vaccines.gov if you’ve recently decided to get vaccinated.
- A temporary return to mandatory masking after Spring Break – Spring Break is the week of April 11th. As an extra precaution to help minimize the risk of a COVID surge after a week of schools being closed, all students and staff will be required to wear a mask April 18-22, the week after we return from Spring Break.
We know that staff and families have additional questions about how this shift to optional mask wearing will impact other school health and safety protocols. PDPH has shared that they will be providing additional guidance and recommendations for the School District later this week. In the meantime, if you are feeling anxious or uncertain and need additional support, free counseling services are available by phone at 1-833-PHL-HOPE (1-833-745-4673) and by text at the same number.
Thank you, take care and stay safe.
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia