Philly schools to go virtual Friday as winter storm nears region

A few inches of snow coat the ground in Philadelphia

A few inches of snow coat the ground in Philadelphia on Feb. 1, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Thursday night’s incoming winter storm has prompted the School District of Philadelphia to switch to virtual learning for Friday, Jan. 7.

The school district made the announcement Thursday morning, saying all buildings and offices will be closed on Friday. These closures will allow for easier clearing of snow from roads, sidewalks, and stairs on district properties.

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Closures include the Family Technology Support Centers, Specialized Services Regional Centers, grab-and-go meal sites, and the district’s headquarters at 440 North Broad Street.

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The storm is expected to arrive between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., and continue steadily through the early hours of Friday morning, according to 6abc.

Students will still be expected to log on for a full day of virtual learning — meaning the district will not cancel classes for a snow day. The district says teachers will notify students of the schedule.

District staff designated as “essential” personnel during the storm will be contacted by their supervisors with procedures for working on-site, and “will be compensated according to the provisions of their collective bargaining agreements,” the district said in a statement, adding that all other staff members are expected to work from home.

The shift to virtual learning comes as the School District of Philadelphia and others across the nation continue to experience COVID-related staffing shortages.

More than a third of the district’s schools returned from winter break to virtual learning because of staffing challenges stemming from the omicron-related surge in COVID-19 cases. They were projected to remain remote through at least Friday, Jan. 7.

The district says it will monitor the current shortages and make decisions through the weekend.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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