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Philadelphia Board of Education announces plan to reopen schools in the fall

Remote learning will still be utilized, but students will physically go back two days a week.

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In mid-March, the Philadelphia School District, along with school districts across the nation, quickly shifted its teaching model to remote learning through the end of the year. Now that Fall 2020 is rapidly approaching, officials are gearing up for the reopening of public schools. 

The Philadelphia Board of Education met on July 15 to discuss its own steps and procedures to a safe reopening for both staff and students. A more detailed overview of the precautions is supposed to be discussed at another meeting next week. 

Dr. Barbara Klock said staff will be required to undergo daily health screening at home to assess possible COVID-19 symptoms. 

Schools will provide disposable masks, and they will be promoting social distancing in halls. 

Each student and staff member will need to wear a mask no matter the age. Disposable masks, homemade masks, and gaiter masks will be permissible, however using a towel or scarf as a mask will not. Exemptions for them will be considered and accepted if there are medical issues like chronic illness.

Chief of School, Evelyn Nuñez, said students will be divided into two groups. They will physically attend school two days a week and learn remotely the remaining days. 

Depending on what group the student is in will determine the days they attend class. 

The Board of Education is also looking into providing additional chromebooks for students who do not have accessibility to online learning. 

Additionally, students will not be able to drink from the water fountain, but will be required to bring a water bottle and fill it from a touchless water station.

Interim Chief of Facilities and Capital Programs Alicia Prince said the summer cleaning taking place is deep cleaning. 

As the school year begins, there will be prep cleaning, daily cleaning, hand sanitizer stations at all entry ways. Engineers will also be working to increase air circulation in all buildings. 

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr, said these changes and implementation will cost $60-80 million, and for that reason is advocating to pass the HEROES Act, Congress’ latest COVID-19 stimulus legislation still being debated in the Senate.  

“To be clear, this school year will be a challenge for us all as we learn how to cope with this ‘new normal,” Dr. Hite closed.

First day of school is tentatively set for September 2.

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