School Year 2020-2021: Advancing Education Safely
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I register for Pre-K or Kindergarten for the 2021-22 school year?
Please email the Office of Student Placement and Enrollment at email@example.com with any questions or need for assistance in the meantime.
How will the District keep families informed of advancements or changes to the re-opening plan?
Regular Plan updates will be communicated through numerous methods including text, robocall, email, our District website (philasd.org/schoolstart2020), online FAQs and across District social media platforms.
If you haven’t already created or updated your Parent/Family Portal information, please do so to be sure you are receiving all communications. Find instructions HERE. We will also continue to provide updates via Superintendent Hite’s Facebook Live events on Wednesday’s at 4:30 p.m.
How will the District make decisions about when to move to a hybrid model?
Decisions will be based on guidance from the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education, and our own assessment of meeting the various milestones we have set for the District, in terms of safe social distancing and health protocols for students and staff.
Will meals continue to be provided to students in the virtual model?
Yes meals will continue to be distributed. Visit THIS PAGE for the most up-to-date information.
How can we afford to do more (more cleaning, more building enhancements etc), now, when money has always been an issue before?
The District has taken many measures to help offset some of the $60 million – $80 million in projected costs associated with COVID-19 response efforts, including: maintaining a hiring freeze for all non-essential positions, applying for COVID-19 grant funding, and exhausting our fund balance which serves as the District’s emergency fund.
December’s passing of the second pandemic relief bill has provided the District significant additional funding to help with our financial recovery. To learn more about how you can help the District secure additional funding support, visit philasd.org/fundourschools.
Is the District continuing to address building improvements, during this period of closure?
Continuing to make much-needed environmental and capital improvements in our schools remains a top priority.
Over the past year, we have invested $264 million to safely accelerate our school improvement efforts and prepare for the safe return of students to school buildings. This includes:
● The removal of over 300,000 feet of asbestos-containing material such as floor tiles and pipe insulation (the equivalent of more than five football stadiums)
● 61 capital projects such as roof replacements, boiler replacements/repairs, hvac and electrical system upgrades, and bathroom renovations
● 147 classroom modernizations supporting our early literacy efforts
● 28 schools certified as lead safe, bringing our total number of certified lead safe schools to 100
● Ventilation assessments in every school
Starting the school year with all students learning remotely also allowed us to remove or address asbestos in an additional 28 schools.
We will continue to safely advance our capital and environmental improvement work until all of our students and staff members have the learning and work spaces they need and deserve.
Learn more HERE
Is the District continuing to address issues like asbestos, during this period of closure?
Since the closure of our school buildings in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the District has accelerated its improvement efforts in its school buildings. We’ve invested nearly $264 million in improvements across 61 schools.
Learn more HERE
When do employees have to return to work at 440?
We are working on a plan for the phased return of 440 administrative staff which will be guided by our health and safety protocols. More information will be shared once the plan is finalized.
How do I serve a legal Complaint/Writ during COVID-19 closures?
Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, The School District of Philadelphia’s Office of General Counsel is closed to the public and our staff are working remotely. For information on service of legal complaints/writs during Covid-19 closures, please go here.
How can I volunteer to help?
Those interested in volunteering should contact the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service by visiting www.phila.gov. There you will find opportunities with nonprofits that are providing critical services.
How will the hybrid model work?
To further support safe school environments, our goal is for most schools to follow an AA/BB Schedule where ½ of the in-person students would attend schools in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other half on Thursdays and Fridays. This staggered scheduling limits the number of students in school buildings each day and helps maintain social distancing in all spaces throughout the day.
Teachers will provide direct instruction to all students either via in-person learning or via livestream.
● Hybrid students will attend school in person 2x/wk and engage remotely via livestream on the days they are home.
● Digital students will receive instruction via live stream daily.
● During independent practice, hybrid students at home AND digital students will log off of their computers and complete assignments. In-person students will complete assignments in class.
● Small Group instruction occurs throughout the week. Teachers will pull in-person students and some digital students into virtual small groups while the other students work independently.
When does Phase 1 start?
At this time, we do not have a firm date for returning to in-person learning in a hybrid model. All of our students will continue with 100 percent digital learning remotely until further notice.
When will additional grades start in-person learning?
The order and timing of additional students and grades is TBD, based on guidance and data from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. .
What factors could affect how, when and if we can proceed with in-person learning with the hybrid model?
Flexibility and patience will be key to moving forward. Many factors will influence how, when and if we can proceed with in-person learning.
● IF a significant number of teachers are unable to teach in person due to health or other considerations, hybrid learning may no longer be feasible OR many students may not remain with their current teachers.
● IF a school cannot maintain safe social distancing requirements with an AA/BB schedule, it will have to shift to a different schedule that better meets their needs.
● IF a vast majority of families choose to remain 100% digital, hybrid learning may not be feasible.
● AND COVID-19 conditions are constantly changing, sometimes very quickly. At any time, PDPH may require us to halt our plans OR temporarily close a classroom, part or all of a school, or the entire District to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. In these cases, students will immediately shift to digital learning from home until it is safe to resume their in-person schedules.
If I choose Hybrid, can I choose whether my child is on an AA or BB schedule?
No, it will be assigned at the school level based on the number of families who choose the hybrid model.
If my student was part of the original Phase 1 and I chose hybrid or virtual, will that choice remain in place when we DO go back to classrooms?
Once we resume our plans to return to in-person learning in a hybrid model, we will honor the option you selected.
If you opted to have your student return in person, and wish to change your mind and keep your student home, that choice can be honored immediately.
If you opted for your student to stay home and wish to change your mind and have your students return in-person, there may be a delay in the transition while options are evaluated in alignment with health & safety protocols and other factors.
When we return to a hybrid model, if we opt to remain virtual will my student still have the same teachers?
When we transition to the hybrid model, we will continue to evaluate digital opportunities that prioritize students being taught by teachers in their enrolled school.
Will teachers be able to teach from their classrooms?
We are working towards that, yes. If classrooms and buildings are able to reach the milestones for safety, teachers will be allowed to teach from their classrooms.
How will the District approach the use of substitutes to account for the inevitable teacher vacancies?
Kelly Services has been asked to hire more substitute teachers this year than in previous years to ensure we have adequate coverage both for day-to-day substitutes as well as potential long-term substitutes which may arise from people going out on extended leave.
Will there be student teachers for the 2020-21 School Year?
Yes – student teachers are a critical part of our recruitment efforts. We deeply value our student teachers and want to ensure their continued presence to support our students.
While student teaching may occur remotely or on-site, the District is committed to working with our university partners to place student teachers.
Please note that universities must sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the District to place student teachers. (The form can be found at the SDP website HERE) Principals will coordinate their student teacher schedules to ensure proper social distancing is possible.
What does the daily schedule look like for online learning? How long will the school day be?
Parents and families are encouraged to review this Day in the Life document to get an idea about how the daily schedule will look for students at each level (Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle and High School). Please note that these are only examples, and that exact schedules will vary by school. A list of the daily bell schedules by school can be found in the main menu at https://www.philasd.org/backtoschool.
Are there any updates to the digital lesson plans that will reduce the amount of screen time, especially for younger students?
Our academics team continues to review first quarter data, student engagement, teacher practices, and survey data, which will inform our recommendations for January and beyond for grades one through twelve. The amount of screen time for students is definitely being considered as part of this process.
How do we define students with complex needs?
Complex needs includes students with low incidence disabilities, who are intellectually disabled, receive life skills supports, are visually impaired, deaf/hard hearing, receive multiple disability support, are autistic and/or on autistic spectrum with significant supports including language supports and physical support.
What services will be provided for students with IEPs?
Students with IEPs are able to access and benefit from digital instruction. They have access to the digital supports that align with their IEPs, and have opportunities to engage with their peers, general education teachers, special education teachers, and related services providers, as prescribed by their IEPs.
In addition, on January 25th, we opened 6 Support Services Regional Centers where Supportive Services professionals will conduct in-person student assessments and complete the evaluations and reevaluations needed to inform Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, for students who need special education support and services. Starting Jan. 19, assessors will begin reaching out to eligible students and their families to schedule the assessments. For now, the centers will be open only for determining eligibility or continuing eligibility for special education services for approximately 600 students across the District. Following completion of the assessments, the Regional Centers will look to expand to provide necessary additional special education services, including related services and ongoing assessments deemed appropriate.
The six centers are:
- West Philadelphia High School
4901 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139
- Arts Academy At Benjamin Rush
11081 Knights Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19154
- Martin Luther King High School
6100 Stenton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19138
- Thomas A. Edison High School
151 West Luzerne Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140
- Strawberry Mansion High School
3133 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19132
Creative and Performing Arts High School
901 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
How will Pre-K be handled?
District-operated PreK in District buildings continue to operate remotely. Chromebooks are being purchased for students enrolled in District-operated PreK programs and will be distributed to our PreK families as soon as they are available so that preschoolers can receive daily digital instruction until the school buildings re-open for face-to-face instruction. By implementing a daily schedule that provides opportunities for hands-on, independent activity as well as teacher-facilitated digital instruction at the whole group, small group and individual levels, no child will be expected to spend more than 90 minutes on screen on any day. Parents who want their preschool children to receive face-to-face instruction during this time will be referred to one of the District’s partner PreK providers for service. You can get more information about PreK options for the 2020-2021 school year by visiting www.philasd.org/prek.
Are teachers taking attendance this school year?
All students are expected to attend school five days per week, whether face-to-face or digital, in alignment with state and School District regulations and requirements.
During both face-to-face and digital learning, teachers mark student attendance. School-based and central office staff will actively identify students who are not regularly attending class and assist with addressing the barriers preventing each student’s attendance.
Will there be extracurricular activities when we return to school?
Extracurricular activities will be handled by each school and according to the most current safety standards.
Will my student be able to play sports this year?
The District is employing a Return to Play (RTP) plan that includes a phased-in approach to resuming scholastic athletic programming. Across the phases, there are mentions of high-, medium- and low-risk sports, which are categories the NFSH has developed.
How will the District closure and lack of PSSA testing affect my school selection for the 2020-2021 school year?
There are many decisions to be made regarding school selection and we are currently in discussions with school principals. Right now, we know that attendance will not be a criteria for K-12 school selection for SY2020-2021. We will keep you informed as additional decisions are made. If you have a suggestion or idea, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will students have the option of repeating the grades they are in?
We will handle requests on a case-by-case basis as we have done historically.
Is there a scholarship database for seniors?
Yes. There is a scholarship search database on the College & Career Readiness website here. The website is updated often, as the District learns of new scholarship opportunities. Also, when students log into the Naviance platform (found at the website above) they are able to access additional databases with thousands of scholarship opportunities. For more information about or assistance with Naviance, please click here.
Finally, seniors who have additional questions or would like extra support should call the Senior Hotline at 215-400-4130 or email email@example.com. The hotline operates from 11AM to 1PM Tuesdays through Thursdays and provides live support to students who are pursuing postsecondary opportunities by connecting them with their school-based counselors, guiding them through college enrollment or application paperwork, and assisting with completing FAFSA applications and/or verification. A language line is available to support non-English speakers.
Will learning guides still be available for pickup?
Yes. Starting September 10th, hard copy lesson plans will be available for pickup on Thursdays at the School Districts meal distribution sites for students who lack technology or internet access. Click here to see a list of the Grab & Go meal distribution sites.
Where can I find my child's Student ID#?
You can find this number:
- on your student’s report card,
- displayed on their student ID card,
- by logging onto your child’s student portal account,
- or by asking your child’s teacher.
If you have additional questions regarding how to access your child’s student ID number, please contact the Parent & Family Technology Support Hotline at 215-400-4444.
Will there be opportunities for parent training to better support their child with virtual online learning?
Yes. We will be offering virtual training sessions for parents and families. We will share the schedule when available.
What is happening in schools buildings now that the return to hybrid learning has been delayed until further notice?
Our focus is on performing needed repairs to ventilation systems as identified during the air balancer ventilation assessments and continuing to conduct routine maintenance which includes completing work orders, conducting AHERA inspections and facility cleaning. We want our schools to be ready to receive students as soon as COVID conditions allow us to do so safely. Learn more about building readiness HERE.
Will the public have access to reports on school specific facilities improvement plans and progress, which was referenced at the last board meeting?
Yes. Please visit this website to view information on current school improvement projects and any resulting environmental reports.
Will the ventilation/air quality studies be made available to the public? If so, where?
Yes. Occupancy of spaces based on fresh air intake is included on our Reopening Readiness Dashboard HERE.
What has our facilities team done to prepare schools for reopening?
Our facilities team has been fully trained in enhanced cleaning standards using EPA-registered cleaning supplies — and they started implementing them in the summer of 2020. Once students return, the entire school will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at the end of each day, in preparation for the next day.
How will meals be handled when schools reopen?
To support health and safety during meal times, students will start out eating breakfast and lunch in their classrooms.
In some cases, cafeterias will be set up with self-serve stations where students will safely pick up prepackaged meals and utensils, and then return to the classroom to enjoy their meal. In other cases food service workers will serve students, who will then take the meal back to the classroom — or meals will be delivered directly to classrooms.
Cafeteria workers will follow enhanced CDC food preparation and safety guidelines – including wearing face masks and gloves at all times, wearing hair nets, and washing their hands frequently.
In all cafeterias, a touchless hand sanitizer station will be at the door, and students will be encouraged to use them on their way in and out. And, as an added safety measure, floor arrows will direct orderly traffic flow in the cafe.
When students are able to eat in the cafeteria, tables will be marked to designate where students can safely sit to ensure proper social distancing. Once the lunch period is over, the entire group of students will exit the cafeteria so all tables, chairs, benches, serving lines and high touch surfaces can be thoroughly cleaned before the next lunch period begins.
What will the protocol be for classrooms, when schools reopen?
In classrooms, where students will spend most of their time, doors will remain open as much as possible to promote good ventilation and help avoid touching door knobs.
Every classroom has been evaluated to determine the maximum number of students and staff who can be in the room while maintaining safe ventilation standards and social distancing. There will be a sign outside of each room, showing that number.
Desks will be arranged and marked to support the right number of people in the room and to ensure proper social distancing. If the classroom has tables, seats at the table will be marked to ensure social distancing.
Every classroom will have cleaning supplies. Students and teachers together will use these to help keep desks, tables, chairs, and other high touch surfaces clean throughout the school day.
What will the protocol be for bathrooms, when schools reopen?
We are taking extra precautions in bathrooms.
Signage to remind students of health and safety protocols will be clearly posted. To maintain social distancing, students will not be able to use sinks or urinals that are immediately next to each other. Where numerous sinks or urinals are lined up in a row, every other unit will be clearly marked to indicate that it cannot be used.
All bathroom stalls are safe to use because they have built in partitions.
High touch surfaces like toilets, faucets and stall handles, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers will be disinfected at least every four hours.
And of course, everyone must wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before leaving the bathroom.
What are the protocols for entryways, hallways and offices?
To minimize direct face-to-face interaction and two-way traffic flow, many schools will use one door for entering and a different door for exiting. In other schools where that’s not possible, traffic in entryways and exitways will move in one direction at any given time.
Touchless hand sanitizer stations will be available for use inside every entrance. As students continue into the hallways, touchless hand sanitizer stations will be available at each end. High touch surfaces like lockers and door knobs, will be disinfected at least every 4 hours during the day. There will also be signs on the hallway walls to remind everyone of proper health and safety protocols.
Drinking fountains will be turned off. Touchless bottle fillers (found on the newer hydration stations) will remain on so students can safely fill up their personal water bottles.
Main office doors will remain open as much as possible during the day to minimize touching door knobs and to promote good ventilation. Outside the office, there will be a sign showing the maximum number of people safely allowed in the room. There will be a hand sanitizer station at the door and signage to promote health and safety practices. Inside the office, plexiglass partitions have been installed to further promote safety.
What is being done about the asbestos problems in schools that were identified before COVID?
The School District has accelerated its asbestos abatement efforts while schools have been closed. Extensive environmental and capital improvements are happening this summer across more than 60. For information about what’s happening at your school, visit HERE. Note that if your school is not undergoing a project, it will not be listed on the website.
Who is receiving concerns about issues with District buildings at this time?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any issues or concerns with District buildings.
How will meals be served in schools during in-person learning?
Students will enjoy their breakfast and lunch meals in their classrooms while at school.
Will healthy meals be available for students through during digital learning?
Yes. The School District of Philadelphia, several charter schools, and the Philadelphia Housing Authority are coordinating with the City’s Office of Children and Families to provide free, nutritious grab-and-go meals for all Philadelphia children and youth while digital learning is taking place. Sixty-three of the sites are School District of Philadelphia buildings. You can find detailed information regarding locations and schedules of the meal sites HERE.
Who qualifies for these meals?
All children and youth are eligible for free meals and no ID is required.
When and where can I pick up meals?
Grab-and-go meals for our students will continue to be available across the City through the first marking period. Current locations and times are available HERE but they may change for summer so please check the link often.
Currently, every Thursday, from 9 a.m. to noon, you will be able to pick up a box of 5 breakfast meals, five lunch meals and a ½ gallon of milk for each student in your family. Each box weighs six pounds so we encourage you to bring a wheeled cart or some other way to easily carry the boxes if you are picking up meals for multiple students in your household. Social distancing, the use of masks and gloves, and other safety efforts will continue to be practiced to ensure everyone’s safety as meals are distributed. Thank you for supporting this important safety effort.
More information about the School District’s meal distribution sites can be found on the School District’s website HERE, and all information about the City of Philadelphia’s meal distribution, including an interactive map of all meal sites, can be found HERE.
How were the grab-and-go meal sites selected?
The School District and the City collaborated to intentionally and thoughtfully select sites that could conveniently serve everyone in Philadelphia. We worked to ensure that:
- we accounted for population density and walkability so that there was a site that was close and convenient to everyone.
- the sites had cafeterias located on the first floor so that we would be able to safely and easily transport food without having to travel up and down stairs.
- the sites were equipped with the proper refrigeration and freezers to ensure the quality and prevent the waste of the large amounts of food that we intend to provide.
How is the food being served with safety in mind?
Each School District grab-and-go site is staffed by food services employees who are trained in proper hygiene and cleanliness practices. In addition to following the social distancing and hygiene recommendations from health experts including covering your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and regular hand washing, they are also required to wear appropriate food service attire including hairnets and gloves. All food serving stations and surfaces are regularly sanitized using a disinfectant solution that is proven effective against coronavirus, and sanitizing wipes and gel is used in all packing and distribution areas.
Does each child have to be physically present at the meal site to receive the 6 meals per child? Can a mother of six school-aged children pick up 36 meals without any of her children present?
Children do not have to be present at the meal distribution sites. Family members can pick up enough meals for all children in their households. Given the numbers of meals being provided, we strongly encourage families to bring a backpack or reusable bag with them to carry the items.
Will students in hybrid learning continue to receive meals for the entire week?
Students will receive grab-and-go meals for their fully digital days on the last day of their in-person learning each week.
That means, a student learning in person on Monday and Tuesday will pick up meals for Wed-Fri at school on Tuesday. A student learning in person Thursday and Friday will pick up additional meals at the end of the day Friday.
Where is my P-EBT card; I need to update my address for my P-EBT card?
The P-EBT program is not a School District initiative. All inquiries regarding P-EBT, including incorrect benefit amount, lack of benefit for every child, and/or reports of lost or damaged P-EBT Cards should be emailed to email@example.com, or submitted using THIS form.
For additional information you may also want to check the PA Department of Human Services website HERE.
Will P-EBT benefits be renewed?
How can I donate food or money for food?
The School District of Philadelphia is grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support to help provide healthy meals for students while schools are closed. We ask that all food and monetary donations for food be directed to Philabundance at philabundance.org.
How are classrooms being fitted with technology to support the return to classrooms?
Ensuring that students remain with the teachers who have taught, cared for and supported them since the beginning of the school year has been one of our top priorities. Our students and families deserve that stability, whether they return to school on a hybrid schedule or continue with all digital learning,
So we have invested nearly $6 million in technology that will allow teachers to livestream their lessons. That means they will be able to teach students who are at school in-person and students logged in remotely, at the same time. This technology will helps us to more easily shift from hybrid to digital learning if COVID-19 conditions change in a classroom, a school or more broadly. And it will help to keep all of our young people engaged in learning throughout this school year.
Will all students (current, new, PreK and K-12) be able to pick up Chromebooks if they need one?
Yes. All students, including new, incoming students, who need Chromebooks will receive them. Chromebooks are distributed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00am-3:00pm, and on Wednesdays from 9:00am-5:00pm, at three Parent & Family Technology Support Centers.
Find more information, locations and times HERE.
Will my PreK or Kindergartener also receive a Chromebook?
Yes. All students, including incoming PreK and Kindergarteners, who need Chromebooks will receive them. Chromebooks are distributed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00am-3:00pm, and on Wednesdays from 9:00am-5:00pm, at three Parent & Family Technology Support Centers.
Find more information, locations and times HERE.
How can I get internet access?
The City of Philadelphia’s PHLConnectED program is available for families who do not have an internet connection in the home or are only connected with a cell phone. If you do not have an in-home internet connection or only have internet access through your cell phone, call the PHLConnectED hotline to learn more.
Just dial 2-1-1 and press option 1 to hear how you may qualify for the program.
Internet is provided by various companies for Philadelphia residents. The District is working with them to provide additional alternatives. Information on options can be found HERE.
I've heard about a low-cost internet option through the City- what is this program?
Yes, the City of Philadelphia’s PHLConnectED program is available for families who do not have an internet connection in the home or are only connected with a cell phone. If you do not have an in-home internet connection or only have internet access through your cell phone, call the PHLConnectED hotline to learn more.
Just dial 2-1-1 and press option 1 to hear how you may qualify for the program.
Internet is provided by various companies for Philadelphia residents. The District is working with them to provide additional alternatives. Information on options can be found HERE.
What should I do with my Chromebook if my student graduated and I need to return it?
Please return the Chromebook to the Education Center, 440 N. Broad Street.
What if I my Chromebook is damaged or not working properly? What if I have questions about how to use my Chromebook?
You can bring your Chromebook to one of our Support Centers for help. Hours are updated here.
Resources for using your Chromebook are also on that page.
Questions about Chromebooks can also be directed to our Parent & Family Technology Support hotline:
You can also email your questions to FamilyTechSupport@philasd.org.
What do I do if my child’s Chromebook gets stolen?
Please report the Chromebook theft to the Philadelphia Police Department and obtain a police report. Then notify your child’s teacher and principal.
If I have multiple children, will I get a device for each child?
Yes. Each K-12 student who is enrolled in a District school and needs a device for learning at home will receive one. If you are fortunate and have computer and internet access at home to meet your child’s online learning needs, we ask that you please reserve this program for those who do not.
Can remote learning be done on an iPad or tablet?
Yes. Students and families can use any device that can provide access to Google classroom, access to a microphone and camera, and a keyboard. Resources for using various devices can be found here.
Are resources available to help students and families use their Chromebooks and other devices (iPads, tablets, etc.) for remote learning?
Yes. Instructional steppers for various devices (and translations) can be found HERE.
What accessibility features are available to support students in using their Chromebooks?
A full list of accessibility featured for Google G-suite, including Google Chrome and Chromebooks, can be found here.
What are the safety guidelines for the distribution of Chromebooks?
All School District and City personnel involved in the distribution of Chromebooks are volunteers. They will follow strict safety guidelines designed to ensure the health and well-being of our staff, students and families.
These safety guidelines include:
- wearing gloves and masks
- remaining six (6) feet apart from all individuals as Chromebooks are being prepared, organized and distributed
- wiping down all surfaces before and after contact: Chromebooks, tables, pens, devices, door handles etc.
- where possible, use of disposable pens for one-time use, and clipboards to support social distance while forms are completed
- walkup options are offered with minimal contact involved, and where possible, drive-up options offered
Why is the effort to provide Chromebooks vital for Philadelphia students?
In Philadelphia, many households have access to in-home computers and internet services to help expand learning for their children beyond the classroom while many still do not.
A 2019 District Survey found that:
- 45% of students in grades 3-5 have access to the internet from a computer at home
- 56% of students in grades 6-8 have access to the internet from a computer at home
- 58% of students in grades 9-12 have access to the internet from a computer at home
What Mental Health, Trauma and Social-Emotional supports will be available for students and staff?
Since school doors were last open, our students and staff have experienced isolation; separation from friends, teachers, and colleagues; illness or loss of loved ones; and disruption of the familiar routines that made them feel cared for and safe. We have also experienced the pain and division caused by racial injustice and its harms to our nation and community. For all of these reasons and more, this is not a normal school year.
In 2020, we launched the Healing Together initiative that is designed to address the needs of our students, staff, and families in the wake of this sustained trauma. Healing Together encompasses an intensive focus in four areas: 1) mental health and trauma; 2) social-emotional learning; 3) relationships and community; and 4) adult wellness. Visit the Healing Together website to find resources and learn more.
How do I talk to my children about coronavirus if they are showing signs of stress?
With so much information being shared about coronavirus, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. These resources are available to help you talk to your child about coronavirus and manage any stress you or your loved ones may be feeling:
Do you know of any health insurance programs for school-age children?
If your children need health insurance, either because they never had it or because your benefits have changed during the COVID crisis, our partners at PCCY can help you apply. Click HERE for information.
How does the District plan to support families this fall?
The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected the families and communities the District serves in myriad ways – from widespread unemployment and food insecurity to the illness and deaths of loved ones. When it comes to education during these challenging circumstances, families need access to information and learning ideas, ways to understand the information, and ways to take action on it to support their children.
During this time of uncertainty and change, the Office of Family Engagement will provide key resources to help families including virtual trainings, support groups, a help line and more.
What are my options for childcare?
The City of Philadelphia is partnering with community-based organizations to open Access Centers that will support Philadelphia children and their families this fall during digital-learning time. Access Centers will be free of charge and located in neighborhoods to serve Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children.
How does the District plan to support teachers and other staff this school year?
All District staff will participate in various training and professional development sessions to support a safe and student-centered school start. These sessions will ensure all school staff members have the knowledge to follow and promote safety guidelines, as well as support students socially, emotionally and academically.
Another important aspect of supporting our workforce is to ensure that our staff have access to resources that support their physical and mental well-being. Individuals have faced many difficulties in the past few months, confronting issues with food insecurity, trauma, post-traumatic stress, illness and loss of loved ones and more. It is essential that we have multiple options, opportunities, and offerings for employees to feel supported, access needed resources, and address their mental health needs. While SDP employees can visit the employee page to find employee-exclusive services, anyone can visit the Healing Together website to find resources and learn more about our adult wellness offerings.
Support for general questions about the District
Available Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Health & Safety
Going to School
Being Inside the School
Maintaining Vital Services & Supports
- Healthy Meals – more than 4.3 million grab-and-go meals have been safely distributed through School District meal sites to ensure Philadelphia’s children maintain access to healthy meals.
- Philly Hopeline ( 1-833-PHL-HOPE) — we partnered with Uplift Center for Grieving Children — the first sizeable partnership of its kind in the country — to offer expert counseling services and supports for students, parents and families who may be struggling with grief and loss.
- Healing Together – we worked with trusted local partners and national experts to launch this nationally recognized initiative which focuses on supporting the mental health, trauma and social-emotional needs of our students, staff and families
Confronting the Digital Divide
- Chromebooks – more than 99,000 Chromebooks were purchased and distributed to students who needed them for digital learning thanks to generous donations from Philadelphia philanthropists, foundations and companies.
- Tech Support Centers & Hotlines for parents and families have been operating since March 2020 to support ongoing Chromebook pickup, repair and service needs.
- PHLConnectED – this unprecedented partnership among the City of Philadelphia, Comcast and other internet providers, and the School District was launched to help connect 35,000 students who do not have in-home internet access or only have internet access through a mobile phone to reliable, high-speed internet.
Ensuring Continuity of Education
- Learning Guides – within weeks of closing school buildings in March, more than 100,000 learning guides in core subject areas were created, printed and distributed so that every student across every grade level had equitable access to enrichment and learning.
- Digital Learning – By May 2020, planned, teacher-led instruction began with new digital learning plans which were available online for easy access by families. The first four weeks of lesson plans for the 2020/2021 school year are complete and copies will be available at District meal sites.
- Professional Development – our principals and teachers are actively engaging in more than 200 professional development sessions through November 2020 to strengthen their teaching and learning, community building and engagement practices in a digital environment.
- Staffing – our ongoing recruiting efforts resulted in over 99% of teacher and principal roles being filled for the start of the school year — the highest levels ever.
Preparing for the Safe Return to School Buildings
- Facility Improvements – Since the closure of our buildings in March 2020, we have invested $264 million in improvements, including:
- The removal of over 280,000 feet of asbestos-containing material such as floor tiles and pipe insulation (the equivalent of five football stadiums)
- 61 capital projects such as roof replacements, boiler replacements/repairs, HVAC and electrical system upgrades, and bathroom renovations
- 147 classroom modernizations across 11 schools supporting our early literacy efforts
- 24 paint and plaster projects, bringing our total number of Certified Lead Safe schools to 110
- Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA) projects at Gompers and Lincoln to manage and promote efficient energy use
- Ventilation assessments and window repairs
Starting the new school year with all digital learning remotely has also allowed us to further expand our asbestos abatement and remediation efforts in 28 schools.
- Health and Safety Protocols – we have developed and implemented extensive health and safety protocols based on Philadelphia Department of Public Health Department and CDC guidelines to promote healthy school and work environments. This includes: face mask/covering requirements for everyone, daily screenings before building entry, enhanced cleaning protocols and the use signage and floor markers to promote social distancing and healthy hygiene practices.