Hybrid return to Philly schools could be derailed by rising COVID-19 cases

Parents must opt in or out of hybrid plan by Friday

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Parents of Philadelphia’s youngest schoolchildren will decide this week whether their children should return to school buildings at the end of next month or keep learning online.

The School District of Philadelphia is giving parents of 32,000 pre-K through second-graders the choice to opt into a hybrid return to school buildings, which would start on Nov. 30, or to keep the kids in all-digital classes.

Parents have until Friday at 5 p.m. to make a decision.

District Chief Information Officer Melanie Harris said parents are still weighing their options, but generally, most of those who responded want their kids to go back to school buildings.

“We’re seeing probably a 60-40 split on parents choosing hybrid over digital,” she said. “But again, we don’t have all of the pre-K data and we don’t have analysis by grade.”

Parents who don’t give the district a decision will automatically stay with digital learning. But with COVID-19 case counts rising in Philadelphia, Superintendent William Hite said it’s possible everyone will stay digital.

“If in fact we reach a certain threshold, then it is realistic to say we may not be able to bring individuals back into a hybrid model,” he added.

But so far, the city health commissioner believes it is safe to resume in-person instruction.