Philadelphia School Board Approves School District’s Plan To Begin School Year Online

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia School Board approved the school district’s latest reopening plan. Members voted 7-1 to have all students start the year online on Sept. 2.

Children will be out of the classrooms until at least November.

Families with younger children are concerned about the pre-K program, which is still being offered in-person.

While the School District of Philadelphia has opted to go all virtual for the start of the school year in September, Philadelphia pre-K is beginning to enroll children for the fall.

“We just can’t allow the pandemic to take safe, quality learning experiences away from our children,” Mayor Jim Kenney said, “especially at the most critical stage of their development.”

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The mayor and city officials will open 130 free pre-K locations in the fall for 3- and-4-year-olds with the capacity to enroll as many as 3,300 students.

The mayor is feeling confident in following the recommendations of health officials in reopening pre-K programs, even in the midst of a pandemic.

“My level of comfort is based on the information given to me by Dr. [Thomas] Farley and the Department of Health,” Kenney said. “We’ve followed that process from the very beginning.”

“Our view about day care centers in general, pre-K age group, is that in general, the younger the child the less risk they are for getting a serious infection and maybe less risk they are for getting any infection,” Health Commissioner Dr. Farley said, “and probably less likely they are to spread the infection.”

Strict safety protocols will be put in place for pre-K locations.

“All of our pre-K locations are responsible for putting in a very specific plan. It’s the everyday health and safety procedures. It is having a particular screening process or dropoff process and the mask-wearing guidance that’s in place,” PHLpreK Director of Operations Shante’ Brown said.

Still, officials are anticipating reservations by some parents too afraid to relinquish care of their children to anyone in the time of COVID-19.

“I don’t think in any setting though, to be honest, the risk is going to be zero,” Farley said.

Eyewitness News has been told that pre-K enrollment up to this point is at 50%. It only started a few weeks ago and the program starts in late August, early September.