Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,
On Tuesday, August 31, we will start the 2021-22 school year with in-person learning five days a week.
We have continued to work closely with our colleagues at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to monitor COVID-19 conditions and identify additional health and safety measures we can take to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone in our schools and offices.
I’m writing to share two important updates with you.
COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Last night, the Board of Education voted to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all staff. I fully support this decision because the science is clear: COVID-19 vaccines work. A recent study by CHOP (www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2021/07/23/cdc-finds-covid-rates-far-lower-for-school-staff-who-got-pfizer-vaccine-in-one-city—especially-if-they-had-both-doses/) using data from our own schools is further proof that the vaccine is highly effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
We are working through final details now and will provide more information when available.
COVID-19 Test to Stay Model Update
Upon new guidance from PDPH, we no longer plan to follow a Test to Stay model. Anyone identified as having come in close contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days.
These health and safety updates are in addition to the many other layers of safety we will have in place at every school, including conducting weekly testing of all staff, providing onsite testing of students who present with COVID-like symptoms while at school, and requiring everyone in our schools to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
To learn more, be sure to review our updated health and safety protocols at: https://www.philasd.org/studenthealth/health-and-safety-protocols/, check out this video at: https://youtu.be/1QuWrY8Fhbo and visit our back-to-school information hub at www.philasd.org/ringthebell.
We are excited and ready to safely welcome children back to school! I invite you to visit our last few stops on our Back-to-School Bus Tour (https://www.philasd.org/ringthebell/#bustour) to access information, services and a free backpack with school supplies so you can be ready to ring the bell on the new school year.
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia