Education Secretary Cardona pushes for reopening more schools in Philadelphia

The outside of Olney Elementary School’s annex, where U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited on Tuesday.
The outside of Olney Elementary School’s annex, where U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited on Tuesday. Photo credit Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited schools in Philadelphia and Upper Darby on Tuesday. His goal was to encourage more schools to reopen for in-person instruction.

Secretary Cardona visited a couple of second-grade classrooms at Olney Elementary School’s annex. There were seven students in one classroom and two in the other.

The secretary is touring schools to find out how they are safely returning to in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think he’s interested in figuring out how we can do more,” said Pennsylvania Acting Education Secretary Noe Ortega, who joined Cardona. “I think the reason he’s coming to Philadelphia is to really elevate what good things have been happening.”

About a third of Philadelphia’s pre-kindergarten through second grade students have opted for in-person classes. Third through fifth graders are slated to return later this month. The district has not determined whether, or when, most students in grades six through 12 would return.

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite said Secretary Cardona seemed happy with the pace of Philadelphia’s phased-in hybrid plan.

“His message was plain and simply that we want to get more children back in front of some form of in-person learning,” Hite said.

“We understand that it has to be done with the safety of children and adults in mind, and they’re going to provide the resources for us to do it.”

Philadelphia is getting about $1.3 billion in federal COVID-19 relief.​

After he left Olney, Cardona headed to Upper Darby where he visited Beverly Hills Middle School.