Officials said that a surge in coronavirus cases has made the School District of Philadelphia to delay its plans to implement hybrid learning at the end of the month.
On Tuesday, the state added 4,361 new cases to their total which is the highest single-day increase in the state since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile the schools will remain virtual “until further notice,” the district posted on TwitterTuesday morning.
“Based on the most recent updates from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH), in order to help safeguard the health and well-being of our staff, students and families, the School District of Philadelphia has determined that all schools will remain fully virtual at this time,” Superintendent Dr. William Hite said in a letter released Tuesday.
“This means our plans to begin transitioning to a hybrid learning model later this month are on hold and all students will continue with 100% digital learning until further notice.”
Chief of Schools Evelyn Nunez told school leaders of the plan in a letter obtained by NBC10 and Telemundo 62. “It continues to be our goal to transition to hybrid learning; but we remain committed to doing so only when guidance says it is safe to do so,” Nunez wrote.
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Coronavirus cases are increasing in the city and across Pennsylvania, according to health officials. Authorities have advised canceling holiday gatherings and working at home as much as possible.
“Our plan to begin transitioning to a hybrid learning model on Nov. 30 is on hold, and all students will continue to engage in digital learning until further notice,” Hite said. “Transitioning to hybrid learning, and having students engage in face-to-face instruction with teachers is our goal, but our top priority is the health and well being of our students and our staff.”
Teachers union approved the decision
The union representing Philadelphia teachers praised the decision to stay virtual because it would save lives.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said the union demands improved ventilation in district facilities before implementing hybrid learning and returning to the classrooms.
Superintendent Dr. William Hite said in a coronavirus response update provided by Philadelphia officials that there is a concern that those numbers will rise in the coming weeks as people gather for holidays and the weather gets colder. He said that in order to safeguard the well-being of the school community they have decided to keep learning activities virtual. “Transition to hybrid learning is our goal, but our top priority is to help the well-being of students and staff”, Hite said.