The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PolicyLab recommends that Philly-area schools revert to virtual programs. In an interview reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Rubin, director of the PolicyLab, said that there is “increasing evidence” that the virus is being transmitted in schools around the area.
Rubin said that the reason there may be even more in-school transmission occurring than is known lies in the fact that contact tracers have been unable to keep up with the surging caseload.
“We are sort of at the collapse of these plans” for school reopenings, Rubin said, adding, “We are in a catastrophic situation in the Philadelphia region.”
The PolicyLab is recommending that Philly-area schools, and from South Jersey, and across Pennsylvania that are operating in person, change to virtual instruction by Monday. There’s “some wiggle room” for schools that might continue to offer in-person learning to younger children or special-needs students, Rubin said.
Philly-area schools recommendation
While CHOP is recommending that schools stay closed until after New Year’s, schools in areas with lesser hospitalization rates could bring students back in early to mid-December.
The new recommendation from the research team comes a day after the School District of Philadelphia announced it would not return younger children to classrooms this month as planned.
While there is debate about whether children, who tend to experience milder infections, would be safer in school than in other settings, Rubin said, “we need to get control of this.” Some hospitals could be overrun if the virus isn’t contained, he said.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said earlier this week that the state did not plan to order Philly-area schools closures as it did in the spring.
Rubin said he thinks the situation “has reached the magnitude” where Gov. Tom Wolf needs to intervene.