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The announcement comes as COVID-19's Omicron variant is infecting record amounts of people in Philadelphia. Photo: Emily Neil/AL DÍA News.
The announcement comes as COVID-19's Omicron variant is infecting record amounts of people in Philadelphia. Photo: Emily Neil/AL DÍA News.

Philly School District shifts 81 schools to virtual learning as Omicron causes staffing issues

The schools will operate virtually from Jan. 4 through at least Jan. 7.

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In a move that everyone hoped to avoid, but with Omicron spiking cases in Philly to record levels, the Philadelphia School District has announced that 81 schools in the city will shift back to virtual learning starting on Jan. 4, 2022.

The entire list of all 81 schools can be found here. 

Amid the latest spike in COVID cases — during which 38% of all tests administered in the city have come back positive — the major issue confronting the school district is staffing.

In a press release announcing the decision, the school district said schools listed will operate virtually through “at least” Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.

Families should expect the principals at the 81 schools to communicate directly with them about what to do regarding virtual learning.

Staff at the 81 schools that aren’t in COVID isolation for symptoms or exposure, awaiting test results or approved leave, will still be reporting in person to the schools. Those that are isolated, but are able to provide virtual instruction from home can also do so after clearing things with school leaders.

For those students in need of technical support amid the quick switch back to virtual learning, the school district is pointing them to one of its three tech support centers at Fitzpatrick Elementary in the far Northeast, Martin Luther King High School in West Oak Lane, and South Philadelphia High School.

Families can also contact the district’s tech support hotline at 215-400-4444, or email at [email protected]

As of now, the school district also said it is unable to provide grab-and-go meal distribution sites for students at the 81 schools affected, but did point visitors to the city’s map of free food distribution sites.

“The COVID-19 situation and its impact on our ability to safely staff our schools is fast moving,” said Superintendent Dr. William Hite. “We know that the uncertainties created by this rapidly changing environment are difficult for many families. We are grateful for everyone's continued flexibility and understanding.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information from the School District of Philadelphia, which announced after this story was published that four more schools would go virtual from Jan. 4 through at least Jan. 7. It brings the total number of schools up to 81.
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