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All adults will have to complete and pass screening before entering schools and wear a mask among students and staff. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Despite plans to reopen Philadelphia schools on Nov. 30 for in-person hybrid learning, less than a third of the district’s 32,000 students have opted to return.

Philadelphia School District facilities will reopen to teachers beginning Nov. 16 in preparation for students to return for at the end of the month, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The district's plan for hybrid learning will allow students to return to school for two days each week, and will require all adults to complete and pass screening before entering schools and mandate the wearing of masks among students and staff. 

Family willingness for students to return varied by school. In some schools fewer than 1% of families wish for students to return, and at others, more than 90% do, the Inquirer reported. While current state recommendations suggest that schools should shift or continue to implement completely virtual learning given the current level of COVID-19 cases in the city, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley stressed the importance of in-person schooling. 

“We think that in-person education for our children is extremely important, and we think we should do it, even if the risk isn’t zero,” Farley said.

Many of the 95 charter, parochial, and independent schools that have already reopened their classrooms have reported COVID-19 cases, the Inquirer reported. Transmission, however, seems to have largely occurred during outside of school activities, such as sleepovers, carpooling, and other social gatherings, Farley told the Inquirer. 

With the rising COVID-19 cases nationwide and in Philadelphia, the district may ultimately have to return to fully virtual instruction, as it did at the beginning of the school year. 

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