The School District of Philadelphia is warning parents of a possible SEPTA strike next month. This means city schools may need to shift to online learning if the city’s buses, subways, and trolleys grind to a halt November 1.
Superintendent Dr. William Hite sent a letter to parents on Tuesday about the situation. Hite says that if a strike does occur, some or all of the schools could shift back to 100 percent virtual learning.
“The School District of Philadelphia is not directly involved in these contract negotiations. However, it is clear that a SEPTA strike would have a devastating impact on the operation of our School District and our ability to sustain in-person learning five days a week for all students – something we all worked extremely hard to make happen for all students this school year,” he said.
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer a SEPTA strike is not guaranteed; members of the Transport Workers Union Local 234 would have to vote to authorize a strike if no deal is reached by Oct. 31, when the current pact expires. The union is expected to soon schedule a strike authorization vote.
Hite said the SEPTA strike would result in an additional situation to deal with. “In the midst of increasing gun violence and the many other traumas impacting our communities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our schools are a safe haven for thousands of Philadelphia’s young people. We are advocating relentlessly with the city leaders for a non-strike resolution to SEPTA negotiations.”
You can read: Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program season begins
In-person learning would be ideal, the superintendent wrote, but “staffing challenges or other conditions that may result from a strike could require some or all of our schools to shift to 100% virtual learning. Should the need arise, we will explore all feasible options based on the results of the survey, with the goal of continuing in-person learning safely for as many students as possible.”
The district has begun making contingency plans, Hite said, and is “committed to maintaining vital supports for our students such as grab-n-go meals.”
Nearly 60,000 students rely on SEPTA to get to and from school.