School District of Philadelphia eyes all-virtual start for extra time to improve buildings

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With students and staff home for the all-virtual start to the year, the School District of Philadelphia will be able to do some more work on its buildings. Administrators say improving the ventilation in schools will be a priority, because of concerns over how poor airflow could spread COVID-19.

Superintendent William Hite said the district evaluated airflow in its 220 school buildings using a checklist approved by the CDC and the American Federation of Teachers. Hite told the school board last week that nearly two dozen schools didn’t make the grade.

Under his revised reopening plan, classes will be completely virtual to begin the school year. A phased-in hybrid plan would then begin after the first marking period ends on November 17. Hite said the extra time that school buildings are closed also allows the district to get an earlier start on 45 additional asbestos abatement and lead paint stabilization projects planned for later in the year.

“This does provide us with an additional two months, three months to do more work,” he said. “We think that we can have a few more schools abated. We can have a few more schools abated for asbestos and mold – I’m sorry – and lead. And we think that we can provide additional projects given the time that we now have.”​