Schools in the Philadelphia School District and the Archdiocese will officially switch to mask optional on Wednesday


Next Wednesday, students and teachers in the Philadelphia School District will be able to remove their masks, officials confirmed Tuesday.

When Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole last week moved the city to clear status, lifting the mask mandate for indoor spaces across Philadelphia, she said a similar order could come for schools on Wednesday if the number case continued to move in the right direction and after officials reviewed what happened in nearby neighborhoods.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. confirmed the change in a message to staff and families, saying the city’s health department had given the go-ahead.

“Our #1 priority remains keeping our students safe in school, full-time, and in-person, where we know they learn best and we recognize that includes the responsibility of bringing our district community closer together. school of a sense of normalcy, as COVID-19 conditions permit,” Hite wrote. “We know that vaccines are the best protection against the spread of the coronavirus. Currently, 86% of school district personnel are fully vaccinated, and PDPH reports that more than 75% of Philadelphians over the age of 12 are as well. And over the past few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia has remained consistently low. »

Although K-12 students and staff in the district have the option of wearing their masks, students in pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs should continue to wear masks, officials said.

And all students and staff will be required to put the masks back on between April 18 and 22, the week after the district’s spring break.

The district is also phasing out weekly COVID testing for vaccinated employees. Unvaccinated staff will continue to be tested.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is also removing its mask mandate effective Wednesday for schools within the city limits. Those from out of town had already lifted their warrants.

“All other COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing, increased ventilation and enhanced cleaning will remain in effect,” administrators wrote in a letter to Catholic school families sent Tuesday. “We will continue to monitor and report cases of COVID-19 and if there are increases in cases in a school building or county, it may be necessary to revert to the use of masks. Further reduction of other mitigation efforts will be considered over time depending on circumstances. We continue, in the strongest possible terms, to encourage all students and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster. »

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