First Philadelphia public schools reopen

Plastic barriers have been installed at student tables at George W. Nebinger School in Bella Vista.
Jack Tomczuk

A small number of public school students in Philadelphia on Monday returned to their classrooms for the first time in nearly a year, and more will begin coming back next week.

Pre-K to 2nd grade students whose families picked virtual learning during a selection period in November will begin in-person learning this week at 53 schools, and an additional 45 schools will reopen next Monday, officials said.

Students enrolled in the hybrid schedule will travel to their schools two days a week, with the remainder reserved for virtual classes.

The School District of Philadelphia’s in-person reopening had been delayed numerous times, most recently by mediation with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, a union that represents educators in the district.

As a result of that process, the PFT is individually reviewing specific school buildings, with a focus on ventilation, to determine which ones are safe to open during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Today was exciting to see some of our youngest learners walk into school,” Superintendent William Hite said in a statement Monday.

“As we continue to work with the City and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, I look forward to welcoming more and more students to their school buildings so they can receive the crucial in-person learning that they need,” he continued.

About 150 schools serve pre-K to 2nd grade, and the district plans to have reopening dates scheduled for all buildings by March 22, with schools opening on a rolling basis.

Parents of pre-K-2nd grade students who opted for virtual learning in the fall will have the opportunity to choose the hybrid plan after all schools have reopened, according to the district.

Teachers who work with children in those grades at the 45 schools set to open next week have been told to report Wednesday to begin readying their classrooms.

The district’s COVID-19 protocols include mandatory mask wearing, plexiglass partitions, rapid testing, maximum occupancy signs for each room, and hand sanitizer stations.

Staff at public, Catholic, charter and private schools have been getting vaccinated through a city partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The following schools will open for in-person instruction Monday:

A.L. Fitzpatrick School
Abram Jenks School
Alexander Adaire School
Andrew Jackson School
Benjamin B. Comegys School
Benjamin Franklin School
Charles W. Henry School
D. Newlin Fell School
Delaplaine McDaniel School
Edwin M. Stanton School
Eleanor C. Emlen School
Ellwood School
Francis Hopkinson School
General George A. McCall School
General George G. Meade School
General Philip Kearney School
Hamilton Disston School
Haverford Center
Horatio B. Hackett School
James Logan School
Jay Cooke Elementary School
John B. Kelly School
John M. Patterson School
John Welsh School
Joseph H. Brown School
Kennedy C. Crossan School
Lewis C. Cassidy School
Louis H. Farrell School
Morton McMichael School
Philip H. Sheridan School
Potter-Thomas School
Rhawnhurst School
Robert B. Pollock School
Robert E. Lamberton Elementary School
Rudolph Blankenburg School
Samuel Pennypacker School
Tanner Duckrey School
Thomas Holme School
Thomas M. Peirce School
Vare-Washington Elementary School
Widener Memorial School
William Cramp School
William D. Kelley School
William Dick School
William H. Hunter School

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