November 10, 2020
PHILADELPHIA— In response to the School District of Philadelphia’s announcement to remain virtual, PFT President Jerry Jordan issued the following statement:
“The decision to remain fully virtual for the foreseeable future will save lives. The science of COVID-19, paired with the massive ventilation and other facilities issues throughout the District, makes it clear: returning to school buildings, in any capacity, is unsafe right now.
“Consider the cautionary and devastating tale from Arizona, where teachers were infected and one lost their life, while working in a school building without students. Every single precaution was taken, but it was not safe. And in several School District of Philadelphia buildings, we know of cases spread by very few adults volunteering or assigned to be in buildings for supply distribution.
“After three weeks of ‘substantial’ community spread and a positivity rate of 9.1% in Philadelphia over the past seven days, reopening would be extraordinarily dangerous. It’s why this union worked tirelessly to negotiate a memorandum of understanding that outlines a series of safety requirements that must be met in advance of considering reopening. It’s also why I have explicitly outlined our concerns in two recent letters to Dr. Hite. The conditions necessary for reopening, specifically the fundamental rate of virus trajectory and ventilation assessments, have not been met.
“Further, evidence of spread amongst young people is concerning. In the last week of October alone, more than 61,000 students nationally were diagnosed with COVID.
“This delay is challenging for students and educators alike. Remote learning should be no one’s goal, because we know that it is far from ideal. But, it is a win for students and educators nonetheless, because no one can work and learn if they are ill, or worse, from COVID. This decision will keep our students and staff safe, and that is, and must remain, the top priority.”