In his first Facebook Live appearance since all Philadelphia schools returned to in-person learning, Philadelphia School District superintendent William Hite announced a COVID-19 dashboard.
The dashboard is designed to provide weekly updated information on positive coronavirus cases across all of Philadelphia’s public schools. It also reports the results of the district’s mandatory testing program for students and staff.
“As the data shows, the positivity rates in our schools are very low,” Hite said. “We hope this helps to build further confidence in the safety of our schools as we plan to welcome more students back for in-person learning.”
Hite said that while all staff are tested weekly, only 20 percent of students are tested randomly each week. Parents in the meeting said this means the dashboard is flawed because a student could be carrying the virus and spreading it without being selected for testing.
“Comly School has only been in person this Monday and Tuesday and already a kindergarten and second grade class have been sent to quarantine,” Christine Heim said in a Facebook chat.
The number of tests listed on the dashboard has varied from week to week. This week, 1,203 students and staff members were tested and 12 positive tests were reported.
Hite said he anticipates all summer programs and the 2021-2022 school year being 100 percent in person and that the dashboard is designed for parents to feel more comfortable sending their children back into school buildings.
A big part of that plan is contingent upon staff and students aged 16 and older doing their part and getting vaccinated, Hite said.
“We are confident that we will return to normal, in-building instruction this fall under the city’s guidelines,” Hite said.