Will Board Heed Community Concerns About Reopening?

by Lynda Rubin and Karel Kilimnik

At a remote press conference Wednesday, Superintendent Hite and  District and City officials presented the District’s official school reopening plan. Mayor Kenney, Board President Joyce Wilkerson, senior District staff and City officials appeared, making statements and answering questions from reporters. This stood in stark contrast to the virtual “Town Hall” meetings held by the District last week, which no Board member attended and at which no questions asked by parents, community members and educators were answered. 

The  28-page “Advancing Education Safely” (AES)  lays out a hybrid plan that has most students in school for two days and working remotely for three. The document acknowledges two contributing organizations, the City of Philadelphia and Accenture, a multi-national business and technology consulting firm based in Ireland.  Attempts to find a contract with Accenture on the Board’s website were not fruitful. The Board has not released its agenda for the July 23 Action Meeting; it may appear there.

Having attended all of the virtual town hall meetings and recent Board meetings, and having heard from parents and community members over the past four months, APPS has concluded that the Hite administration’s reopening plan fails in large part to address public concerns.

APPS member, teacher and parent Zoe Rooney and teacher Emily Simpson have compiled an extensive list of questions from District parents, educators and community members.

Dr. Hite, in response to a reporter’s question, stated that  this reopening will come at a cost of $60 to $80 million. But that does not include the financial and emotional cost to the students, parents and educators who will be on the front lines in this battle. Parents, notably those who are also teachers, must also figure out how to make this complicated schedule work and still stay employed. Will their employers allow them to bring their children to work three days a week? Will the District provide flex time for teachers with school-aged children? 

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