Philly district opens in-person learning to middle schoolers; most high schoolers will not return

Student listens to a presentation in Health class at Windsor Locks High School

In this March 18, 2021, file photo, a student listens to a presentation at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

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School District of Philadelphia students in grades 6-9 and other high school students with complex needs can return to school buildings two days a week starting May 10, the district announced Monday.

Officials say this is the third and final rollout for in-person learning this spring. That means all high school students without complex needs will remain fully virtual for the rest of the school year.

Eligible families can register for the hybrid program between April 20 and April 27. Those who do not opt in to the program, will remain completely virtual.

According to a district release, all school staff, including administration, teachers, and support staff, will return to buildings on April 26, to prepare for incoming students.

The district said the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will complete readiness reviews for all buildings before staff return.

In a message to the school community on Monday, Superintendent William Hite sympathized with high school seniors who will not be returning to buildings.

“We know that being distanced from friends and teachers has been especially difficult for our seniors who envisioned a very different final year of high school,” said Hite.

“Nothing can make up for their experience this past year,” Hite continued. High school seniors and their families, though, will be allowed to attend in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies.

The district will also provide free caps and gowns to graduating seniors.

District students in younger grades have been invited back to classrooms for in-person learning in waves since early March.

Last week, district officials announced they would use federal stimulus funding to offer universal summer school programming to all city students in an attempt to fight academic regression.

The last day of the normal academic calendar is June 11.

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