PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is a widespread staffing shortage due to COVID-10 on the issue of school safety.
The Pennsylvania Teachers Association says students should temporarily return to virtual learning until safety measures improve.
Read more: At least 46 Philadelphia schools are all moving to virtual learning next week due to COVID-19-related staffing shortages
Everyone wants to keep kids safe at school, but can it be done? Doctor says yes, teacher says no.
“It’s not safe to open a school and there’s really no quality of learning,” said Arthur Steinberg, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Pennsylvania.
The president of the Pennsylvania Teachers Association says dramatic staff shortages in schools due to COVID are creating chaos.
“Children’s education is being affected because they are not able to run a quality, efficient program,” Steinberg said.
AFT wants mitigation restored in schools. This includes vaccination orders on a negotiated basis, masking requirements using KN95 or higher, and asymptomatic testing regardless of vaccination status.
If it doesn’t, the AFT says in-person learning should be halted for two weeks and students will go back to virtual learning.
“We want to do everything we can to keep our kids in schools, but we also want to make sure our teachers feel safe and feel safe,” said Dr. Carmeron Webb of the White House COVID Response Team.
Webb says Philadelphia is on the priority list for getting more federal resources to improve testing.
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“I can’t speak to the specific situation in Philadelphia,” Webb said.
But he said more FEMA sites would open in Philly.
“We don’t need to be afraid of this virus,” said David Rubin, executive director of the CHOP Policy Lab.
On the medical front, Rubin says the policy lab at CHOP has revised its school guidelines because the less dangerous Omicron variant is now so widespread.
It added that students and staff who have COVID can return to class in five days and testing is not necessary. Also, people without symptoms should be allowed to stay in the school.
“So having a mask at school is still a significant barrier to transmission, but we accept that there is going to be some transmission, but it’s more important to keep kids in school at this stage,” Rubin said.
Teachers union takes issue with NITI Lab and says it is ignoring science.
The governor’s office did not respond specifically to the teachers union, but said that masking is a proven and simple way to keep children in school without interruption.
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Meanwhile, at least 46 Philadelphia schools are going virtual next week due to staff shortages.