According to a recent survey by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, (PFT) teachers in Philadelphia have not reached an agreement on the proper way to reopen Philadelphia Public schools.
The survey shows that most teachers believe students should only physically attend on staggered weeks. One-third of the 6,000 teachers, counselors, nurses, and other education professionals responded that schools should remain fully remote. But more than half said a hybrid in-person and remote model is likely the best way to balance education with health and safety.
If the hybrid model is implemented, about 53% of those surveyed are in favor of a staggered-weeks scenario, with students in school buildings one week and learning remotely the next, and groups of students alternating. An alternative of staggering by a smaller number of days drew more concerns.
“The members are concerned. Most believe that the ideal way of teaching children is to be in a classroom face to face and having personal interaction with them. The members are also very concerned about their safety and rightfully so,” PFT President Jerry Jordan said.
The survey also revealed concerns about the implementation of measures to sanitize buildings. “There are other issues that were raised by members, mainly about cleaning protocols. They’re very concerned about their health and safety, as they should be, as I am concerned about that as well,” Jordan said.
Concerns about returning without a COVID-19 vaccine were also reflected in the survey. The same fear had been raised in a previous survey. 71% of Philadelphia educators had expressed their preoccupation about returning to school before a vaccine is developed. Teachers echoed those concerns in the new survey.
Any kind of staggering is still going to spread this deadly virus,” one teacher wrote.
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“Safety should be the No. 1 concern,” another said “Lives are at stake. What about staff who are immunocompromised? I have autoimmune disease, and the return to school is scary.”
School District of Philadelphia administrators still are working on a plan for reopening and reconsidering the reopening date.
District spokeswoman Monica Lewis said administrators are listening to experts, public health officials, teachers and parents, and taking all of their feedback into consideration as they develop their plans, which they expect to unveil in the middle of July.