Only half of elementary schoolers are logging on for class, district says

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia teachers have been taking online attendance for two weeks now, but so far, only about half of students are logging on.

Overall, 57% of Philadelphia students have been logging on for remote learning lessons since the district started taking attendance on May 4. Only 48% of elementary students were present, while 73% of middle and high schoolers logged on, according to the School District of Philadelphia.

Naomi Wyatt, chief of staff to the superintendent, told the school board Thursday night that these numbers don’t represent the full picture.

“It's important to note that this is early participation data,” she said. “It's not fully representative of student participation.”

The district has loaned 84,000 Chromebooks to about two-thirds of its student body. Wyatt said attendance can also be tallied by students texting, calling or sending pictures of work to teachers, as well as entering Google Classroom. 

Whether or not kids are consistently participating in virtual schooling, board President Joyce Wilkerson asked a key question: “What's the plan for figuring out if kids are learning anything?”

Superintendent William Hite noted that academically, students will not be where they should. He aims to limit regression as much as possible. 

“It is not likely — in fact, I know — those children are not going to be where they would normally be, given the fact that we've been out of school so long,” he added.

Once students return to school — which state and local officials predict will happen in the fall, face masks included — Hite said they will be assessed for targeted help.

“We do plan to do some sort of assessment for every child — not a test, but an assessment to see where those children’s' skills are,” he said.