Local school districts review COVID-19 guidelines as new year approaches

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — The CDC is expected to release updated COVID-19 guidelines for back to school as soon as this week.

As school districts prepare, administrators are reviewing their own policies to welcome students back to the buildings.

“I enjoyed my summer and I’m ready for them to go back to school,” said Nia Hines, a mom of two teenage boys from Feltonville.

She’s hoping the year will be as normal as possible for them.

“Both of my children are vaccinated so I don’t think there’s a mandate for masks yet, but if there is, we’re just going to comply,” she said.

At the end of last year, Philadelphia School District did require all staff and students to wear masks. As this year approaches, however, the district is reviewing its policies.

At Woodbury School District, masking is not currently required.

“We encourage people to do what makes them feel most comfortable while they’re still in the building,” said superintendent Andrew Bell.

The district is planning to stick with the CDC’s “Test To Stay” program, which recommends unvaccinated students exposed to the virus take a test to stay in class.

“The test to stay option is really great for our students so we don’t automatically have to just send folks home to be quarantined for 10 days,” said Bell.

Upper Darby School District moved away from “Test to Stay” last spring.

“We weren’t getting many results, or positive test results for our kids who were in that program, so we didn’t think it was really beneficial at the time,” said Ed Marshaleck, assistant superintendent of student services. “We’re going to do our very best to keep kids in school. If they’re sick, we isolate them.”

To keep kids in class, the CDC is recommending everyone who’s eligible get vaccinated. In Philadelphia, 31% of kids 5-11 and 62% of kids 12-17 got their shots.

As infections rise in the city to 693 cases a day, parents say they’re prepared to follow ever-changing rules.

“I wish we’d get to a place where it’s definitely concrete over, but it’s fluid and we have to figure it out as we go,” said Ciani Wells, a mom from Levittown.

The Philadelphia School District is holding a mega back-to-school event at Northeast High School Friday. Immunizations, including the COVID-19 vaccine, will be available there.

You can find more information at PhilaSD.org/RingTheBell

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