School District Announces Plan to Further Limit Risk of Coronavirus to Students and Staff
PHILADELPHIA — As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health matter evolves, the School District of Philadelphia has announced additional plans to safeguard the health and wellbeing of students and employees. During a press conference today with Mayor James Kenney and Philadelphia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. shared details of the District’s plan, which include postponing athletic contests, plays, concerts, work-related travel for staff, and local, national and international school-sponsored trips through Spring Break.
“The School District of Philadelphia has been working closely with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on how we can safely continue learning and instruction during this public health matter,” Hite said. “We will continue to follow the advice of public health officials and remain committed to the health and safety of our entire school community.”
Effective Friday, March 13, the District will limit activities where large groups will be gathered. Athletic practices will be permitted, but games will be postponed until further notice. All school-sponsored trips and work-related travel is postponed at this time unless approved by the Superintendent.
In addition, the District’s Board of Education is also putting some temporary measures in place until further notice, starting with its March 19 committee meetings. Meetings will continue to be held as scheduled, but all meetings will be held in the District auditorium to allow for social distancing. All members of the public are encouraged to watch meetings via live-steam (philasd.org/live). Testimony can be submitted in writing and will be included in the record. Speakers who attend the meeting will be required to follow the Board’s regular speaker policies and will be asked to maintain at least a 3-foot distance from the microphone. The Board will adhere to City guidelines on the limit for the number of people participating in public gatherings and asks that any individual who is ill to refrain from attending in person.
As previously announced, students and staff who may have recently traveled to locations identified as coronavirus Level 2 or higher countries are now required to self-report their travel. Those individuals will also be required to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suggested 14-day self-quarantine period before returning to school or work.
The District will continue the enhanced cleaning of all schools that was implemented earlier this week. This includes additional general cleaners on-site at 8 a.m. each day in addition to regular cleaning staff who will be on-site until approximately 8 p.m. The District is also cleaning the interiors of school buses each day after morning and afternoon routes. Additionally, all schools have been equipped with disinfecting wipes and new hand sanitizer stations have been placed in hallways, entryways, nurse’s offices, cafeterias and gymnasiums.
“We understand and appreciate that members of our school community may have questions and concerns about whether schools should remain open,” said Hite. “However, at this time, there are no plans to close District schools, per the recommendation of PDPH. We know that closing schools would have a significant impact on our students who depend on the consistency and predictability of the services our schools provide, including meals, shelter and health services. For these reasons, every effort will be made to keep our doors open. ”
The District has created a website dedicated to providing information about COVID-19, available at philasd.org/coronavirus. Here, families can find information (in multiple languages) about ways to prevent the illness, how the illness is spread, and associated symptoms. For the latest guidance and recommendations from the Health Department, please visit https://www.phila.gov/covid-19.