Philadelphia schools will be virtual until at least November

Philadelphia schools will be virtual until at least November
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Philadelphia's top schools official said Tuesday that students in the city would not return to in-person learning until at least November due to concerns surrounding the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to parents obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Superintendent William Hite Jr. reportedly said that his decision was in response to the heavy criticism to a previous plan for students to return to school two days per week.

“I believe it’s important to listen,” Hite reportedly wrote. “And it’s important to have your trust and support as we all try to create a plan that will help our children learn in an environment we have never experienced.”

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In comments to reporters last week, Hite had stressed that he does not want to see students learn virtually for an entire school year, which he said would harm low-income students the most.

“We will do harm to children if in fact we lose another year without children in front of adults in some form or fashion,” he said, according to the Inquirer. “We know that our children who are most at risk suffered the most academically in the spring. As educators, we can do something about that, and we need to do something about that.”

His decision to push back the reopening of physical school campuses comes amid a fierce nationwide debate on reopening for in-person classes. The Trump administration has been adamant about getting students back in schools, while education advocates and many Democrats fear that inadequate safety precautions have been taken.

The American Federation of Teachers, the nation's second-largest teachers' union, said Tuesday that strikes against reopening should be a "last resort" but that they have been approved as a potential response to moves from states to reopen classrooms should local teachers feel unsafe.