More News:

December 14, 2022

Philadelphia schools will require students, staff to wear masks for two weeks after winter break

The proactive measure is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after students return from winter break, Superintendent Tony Watlington said Wednesday

Education COVID-19
Philadelphia school district mask mandate winter break Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Students and staff at Philadelphia public schools will be required to wear masks for two weeks following winter break, Superintendent Tony Watlington announced Wednesday.

Upon returning from winter break, students and staff in the School District of Philadelphia will be required to wear masks inside buildings for two weeks.

The "proactive measure" to guard against the spread of COVID-19 was announced by Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington Sr. during a press conference Wednesday, WHYY reported. 

MORE: High school athletes are more likely to vape than their peers, despite making otherwise healthy choices

A wave of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus is sweeping through the United States that health experts are calling as "tripledemic." Physicians are encouraging people to wear masks to protect themselves during this surge, the New York Times reported.

Along with masking, the school district will also provide free at-home tests. Families can pick up the tests at these Philadelphia school-based locations Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.:

• South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St.
• Samuel Fels High School, 5500 Langdon St.
• Overbrook High School, 5898 Lancaster Ave.
• MLK High School, 6100 Stenton Ave.
• Thomas Edison High School, 151 W. Luzerne St.

Students and staff had been required to wear facemasks for the first 10 days of this school year, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9. At that time, Dr. Kendra McDow, the district's chief medical officer, said that masks may be required following extended breaks in the school year for holidays due to the likelihood of students and staff would attend gatherings, which increases their chances of exposure and to potential to spread COVID-19 when school resumes

Watlington echoed this sentiment Wednesday, saying "many of us will be involved in quite a few social gatherings over the next few weeks."

Winter recess for the district runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 3, according to the academic calendar. Classes will resume fully in person, Watlington said. 

The School District of Philadelphia's "General COVID-19 Protocol for the 2022-2023 School Year" remains in place.

Follow Franki & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @wordsbyfranki | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Have a news tip? Let us know.