At a press conference held earlier today, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) announced new COVID-19 related restrictions some of which impact schools located in the City of Philadelphia. Based on these guidelines all high schools in the City of Philadelphia have been directed to shift to a fully virtual instructional model beginning Monday, November 23, 2020. Parish and regional elementary schools in the City of Philadelphia are permitted to continue with in-person instruction, following PDPH’s safety guidelines, which are already in place and being followed at all schools.
As a result of the PDPH’s decision, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced that all eight secondary schools in the City of Philadelphia will shift to the all virtual model of instruction beginning Monday, November 23, 2020. All school related in-person activities and athletic events in Philadelphia will also be suspended during this period.
The secondary schools will provide specific information to parents about this change and its impact at the local level in the coming week. At this time, it is expected that these schools will return to prior instruction models in January 2021.
Based on input from the health departments serving Bucks and Chester-Delaware counties, the current models of instruction will continue for schools in those areas. Archdiocesan and local school administrators are in regular communication with their local health departments, which have indicated that hybrid and in-person instruction should continue at this time.
Over the summer, the Archdiocese announced that school families at all parish and regional elementary Schools had received the Catholic Schools Onward: Best Practices and New Opportunities plan and all Archdiocesan high schools had received the Catholic High Schools Compass: Continuing Excellence in Catholic Education plan for the safe reopening schools in the fall. Archdiocesan schools have successfully and safely operated for two and a half months with very strong safety protocols. Health departments have seen very few cases from schools in the area.
It is our understanding that the recent surge in cases is due to increased social gatherings and the lack of the use of masks and social distancing. With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, there is a concern that there could be a further increase in cases. Archdiocesan schools have been encouraging students and families to follow safety protocols both in school and at home.
The Archdiocese recognizes the essential need to be nimble in the face of the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic landscape. As a result, flexibility is the hallmark of each school plan. Senior administrators are constantly monitoring developments and in constant contact with local health departments in order to adjust school plans accordingly. The Office of Catholic Education is steadfast in its promise to keep school families informed and to remain in dialogue with them. A dedicated point of contact where parents and guardians can share questions is available. Messages can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.