Board of Education Approves Changes to Advancing Education Safely Reopening Plan
During its reconvened Action Meeting last evening, the School District of Philadelphia’s Board of Education approved the proposed changes to the District’s Advancing Education Safely reopening plan. The Board also approved the District’s revised calendar, which will move the first day of school for students from Monday, August 31 to Wednesday, September 2.
The District’s revised plan will have all K-12 students engaging in digital learning five days per week and receiving instruction by teachers from their enrolled schools through the first marking period, which ends on November 17, 2020. Students will then transition to a hybrid model of in-person and digital learning as long as guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and other indicators supports such a move is safe. A 100% digital learning option will be available at that time, and the District will continue to explore opportunities for students to be taught by teachers from their enrolled school.
Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. is pleased that the plan has been approved and is looking forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that students and staff have a safe and healthy start to the new academic year. He stressed the importance of collaboration and flexibility during these unprecedented times being essential for all parties involved.
“As I’ve said many times before, this school year will be unlike any other we have experienced,” Hite said. “Creativity, collaboration, determination and flexibility will be critical skills we must all demonstrate in order to provide our students with the educational opportunities they need and deserve. We’re in this together and I truly believe that together, we can support a safe and successful school year for everyone, despite the uncertainty around COVID-19.”
Chromebooks will be available to any student who may still be in need of a device for digital learning and the District is continuing to work with local legislators and business leaders to determine how families can secure reliable internet access for the entire school year. Students will continue to receive meals when the school year begins in a manner similar to the meal distribution program that has provided 3.8 million meals to students since mid-March.
Next month, District staff will begin a series of virtual training and professional development sessions to prepare for the new school year. This will include training on Healing Together, a new initiative to support the social-emotional needs of our students and staff as well as PD for our educators to further strengthen and deepen their skills to provide students with engaging digital instruction.
Board of Education President Joyce Wilkerson praised the way Dr. Hite and his administration received the feedback from various members of school communities who may have been uneasy around students and staff physically returning to buildings.
“The Board members and I appreciate that Dr. Hite and his team have been working hard to ensure that students continue to learn and achieve during these challenging times,” Wilkerson said. “We appreciate this critical work to implement plans that will allow our children to receive a high-quality education while keeping the health and safety of everyone as our top priority. And we hope the entire Philadelphia community will pull together to support at-risk children who will be learning from home during the first marking period.”