June 29, 2020
PHILADELPHIA— This morning, the PFT released the results from a week-long member-wide survey regarding reopening schools. From June 15-23, 2020, 5,914 PFT members participated in an online member-wide survey regarding a variety of school reopening models.
This survey builds upon our previous survey on reopening in late May. Since school buildings have closed, the PFT has undertaken three major surveys of our membership, to gauge their input first on remote learning and now on reopening models. Thus far, members have completed over 17,600 in depth surveys to inform PFT decision making and advocacy efforts.
The current survey focused on reopening models. In addition to surveying our members about their current input on whether schools should remain virtual, reopen fully, or reopen in a hybrid manner, we also looked at member input into a variety of hybrid models.
- On the overall question of reopening, there is little belief that schools should reopen fully without precautions and modifications (such as physical distancing, scheduling changes, use of PPE) taken. Less than 16% of members agree with this model.
- A significant number of members, nearly 34% agree that schools should remain fully online. A similarly large number, over 35% disagree that schools should remain fully online.
- The most unanimity surrounded the general hybrid model. More than 56% of members agree that a hybrid model is the best option for reopening. Just over 13% disagree.
- Within the hybrid models, utilizing a staggered weeks model (meaning, for example, one week in attendance/one week virtual) has the most support. Nearly 53% of respondents agree with its implementation. However, a significant number of respondents, nearly 30%, disagree with its implementation.
- It will be critical to consider that no version of a hybrid model has universal support, and that more analysis of how any individual model could work is needed.
In addition to sliding scale questions, members also provided open feedback on the options as well as general concerns. Their concerns are well-founded and reflective of deep equity issues that have for too long negatively impacted a District educating predominantly Black and Brown students. Members used the open feedback sections to again draw attention to the urgent need for resources for students with special needs, students learning English, and to address the needs for myriad supports that students will need upon returning to school buildings.
While our recommendation is currently to implement a hybrid reopening model with particular endorsement of a staggered weeks model, we are also cognizant of the multitude of steps that will need to be taken in order to ensure the safe reopening of schools. Cleaning protocol and other key elements must be established. We have provided the District with our recommendations for cleaning protocol (accessible here). We recognize that this model is unlikely to work in every scenario, and in some instances, alternatives will need to be developed. Further, our recommendation could change over time given the disease development and other mitigating factors.
On our second reopening survey, PFT President Jerry Jordan said the following:
“Our members have once again shared their expertise and insight into the critical issue of reopening schools. Like all of us at the PFT, our members have taken into thoughtful consideration of what our students need to thrive. We cannot decouple the injustices that unfold daily in our criminally underfunded school buildings with the injustices at the heart of the recent national uprisings borne out of hundreds of years of racial inequity in our society.
“A plan to reopen schools safely must recognize not only the trauma brought on by COVID, but also take into account the enormous racial injustice that has for too long left our students and educators simply making do with the bare minimum. Reopening schools in a safe manner is but one step towards ensuring that our children, the majority of whom are Black and Brown, have the resources to which they are constitutionally and morally entitled.”