2 Philly schools close, go virtual after positive COVID-19 tests

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two school buildings in Philadelphia are closed for in-person learning after several people in each community tested positive for COVID-19.

At Emlen Elementary, it’s a shift to remote learning for students and staff. Emlen is now the first Philly public school to close this school year because of COVID-19.

Parent Christopher James says he and his wife had to change plans since their son will be home, but that’s ok. He picked up a laptop from the school for his son on Tuesday morning. The district gave laptops to students who needed them.

"It’ll be hard, because the rest of the kids are at school, and now he’s the only one home," James said. "It kind of affects work and everything like that."

But he said, the most important thing is his son was home safe

"If it's safe, I want him to be in school. But if it's not safe, I want him to stay virtual," James said.

Citing information provided by the school, James said there were 10 positive cases there, among students and staff.

Emlen Principal Tammy Thomas, in a letter to families, said the school or the city's Department of Public Health would notify families if their child had shared the same classroom with a student or staffer who tested positive, and share information about quarantining. Those who were not exposed do not have to quarantine.

The hope is to get back to in-person classes next Friday. For now, he and his wife have made sure someone will be with the boy at home during the school day.

The other affected school, Lindley Academy Charter School at Birney, actually started remote learning last Friday, and they hope to return to in-person this coming Monday.

Lindley officials say there were six positive COVID-19 cases. The school is in the 19141 ZIP code, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city. Less than half of the eligible residents are vaccinated, so the school is hosting a Pfizer vaccine clinic on Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"Vaccinations are a critical component of slowing the spread of COVID-19 in communities. Please help us to keep the school building open for in-person learning. Consider getting everyone in your household, especially your Lindley scholars (12 years or older) vaccinated," the letter read in part.

Also on Monday, the School District of Philadelphia revealed that employees would be required to submit proof of vaccination by the end of the month. Those who refuse will be required to get tested twice a week beginning Oct. 4.

If an unvaccinated employee tests positive, they will not be allowed to use any of the direct quarantine leave days offered by the district.