Families scramble as 92 Philadelphia schools switch to distance learning due to COVID-related staff shortage – CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Starting Wednesday, more schools in Philadelphia are moving to distance learning. The rise in COVID cases has led to a shortage of staff.

It marks the way schools in Philadelphia’s 92 school districts are going virtual until at least Friday. The school district will then figure out how to proceed next week.

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This has left many parents and children struggling to adjust.

A representative for the school district says the pandemic has forced them to move around constantly. And while their top priority is to ensure that students are learning, it must happen in a safe environment.

The list of schools that have gone virtual for the week is now in 92 schools.

“Where we don’t have staff, there won’t be students in buildings,” said Monica Lewis, a spokeswoman for the School District of Philadelphia.

While the district’s priority is to open schools, he made it clear that it has to be done safely.

But the initial decision to temporarily close nearly seven dozen schools due to COVID-related staffing shortages did not subside until Monday night.

On Tuesday, some families scrambled as they tried to figure out their childcare dilemma.

“Given that we have kids in different schools – some virtual, doing classes at home and others in person – so it’s very inconvenient,” Ajiola Latif said.

Some students who were personally educated at Masterman School were a little shaken on Tuesday after at least one student was sent home.

Student Abibat Latif said, “One person in our class had COVID and they had to go home, but they let the rest of us stay because we were vaccinated and wearing masks.”

“If they can just allow kids to be virtual it will be better because of the rate of infection. It’s really high,” said Temi Latif.

The main reason students go virtual is because the district says that if enough staff is not available, students will have to learn from home.

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“Information is coming at a very fast pace and we will need to make decisions that can change at the drop of a hat, so we don’t want to give a date and say we will know by date X when something is happening.” To be,” Lewis said.

“It’s not uncommon, and as a parent, things happen all the time and you have to be prepared to do your best with it,” said parent Victoria Harrison.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which is calling for a return to virtual education, issued a statement Tuesday evening, calling Tuesday “chaotic and utterly untenable.”

He says that more than 90% of schools in Philadelphia have reported staff shortages. Jordan reiterated his call for a moratorium on all in-person learning across the district.

The eyewitness news Tuesday was at South Philly High School, one of three places families can go if they need technical assistance. The other two locations are in the Fitzpatrick Annex Building and Martin Luther King High School.

Centers are open this week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but close at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays

lots of students Already returned their Chromebooks after returning to in-person learning and now have to pick up what they need for the next few days After the district’s decision To temporarily close around seven dozen schools due to staff shortage related to COVID.

Some parents are concerned that these surprising disruptions will affect the quality of their children’s work.

“I’m really skeptical about it because I’m a little worried about what they’re learning right now,” said Cecilia Figueroa, who was dropping her baby in Masterman. “For example, my daughter was sent home in December because she was next to another child, but no one was teaching her.”

In a social media post, State Representative Jordan Harris, who represents South Philly, said: “First, Philly schools made the right choice in closing buildings this week. Second, it was done in a completely unacceptable way at the last minute with poor communication with teachers, staff, parents and students.”

Harris said it was more than likely to happen, and that the district shouldn’t have waited until the 11th hour to announce a shutdown.

The school district says they continue to follow the guidance of the Philadelphia Department of Health’s health and safety protocols, including:

  • Mandatory wearing of masks for students and staff regardless of vaccination status;
  • Vaccine requirements for staff and student-athletes;
  • weekly COVID-19 testing for staff and on-site COVID-19 testing for students with COVID-like symptoms during the school day;
  • Advanced cleaning protocols at each school using EPA-approved cleaning products during the school day and for several hours after the school day ends;
  • Air and surface purifiers in all instructional locations, gyms, cafeterias and offices;
  • Maintaining touchless hand sanitizer stations and school supplies for frequent hand washing and sanitizing by students and staff

Click Here To see the list of 92 schools going virtual from Tuesday, January 4 to at least Friday, January 7

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CBS3 journalists Alessia Reid and Vakisha Bailey contributed to this story.