July 28, 2020
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is preparing for schools to reopen on time in September – and at least partly in-person.
The Office of Catholic Education unveiled two frameworks dictating the way education will take place this fall. One covers parish and regional elementary schools in the city and suburbs. The other covers high schools.
Parish and regional elementary schools will prioritize an in-person instruction model. However, a Learning Management System will be developed to centralize materials, lessons, assessments and feedback if in-person learning must be replaced by virtual instruction.
High schools will implement a hybrid model that reduces class sizes. Only half of a school's students will be physically present each day. The other half will receive remote instruction.
Cameras will be set up in classrooms so that the students who are receiving instruction at home can do so in real time throughout the school day. High schools also are implementing a Learning Management System to allow for virtual learning.
The plans were released hours before the School District of Philadelphia announced it would push back any in-person instruction until mid-November.
Students at all schools will be required to practice social distancing. Desks will be kept six feet apart in all classrooms.
Parents of elementary school students will be responsible for taking their children's temperatures and monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms before sending them off to school. High school students are expected to screen themselves for symptoms and take their temperature each morning.
"The plan is based on several key principles, cohorting – students remain with the same classmates throughout the day, social distancing, strategic use of masks, enhanced cleaning, a modified attendance policy, situational virtual learning, and an enhanced partnership with parents," Secretary for Elementary Education Andrew M. McLaughlin said.
The Archdiocese also released guidelines for special education schools to resume in-person learning this fall.
In-person instruction will take place five days per week, and students are required to remain in a specific cohort for both instruction and lunch.
Teachers will rotate in and out of the classrooms. Students only will be permitted to leave the classroom with their cohort to use the bathrooms, computer labs or gym.
Sneeze guards will be set up on each student’s desk, and face masks will be worn in shared areas of the school building. Classrooms will have no-touch thermometers, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, face masks and gloves.
Students will not be allowed to share materials or food, and water fountains will not be in use. Parents should check their children’s temperatures and screen them for COVID-19 symptoms before sending them to school.