Philly’s coronavirus response

Will school work this year? Philly students and teachers share hopes and fears

Online learning feels safest, but it can also have drawbacks.

Mustafa Aboud / Billy Penn

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Schools are some of the most densely-packed places in modern society, so in light of pandemic social distancing, districts across the nation have come up with alternative learning plans.

After first rolling out a hybrid education model, the School District of Philadelphia changed course and is now planning online only. But Philly students, parents and teachers are still full of worry — and it seems like there’s little chance of finding a solution that can satisfy everyone.

“If you contract this virus, you wouldn’t know for weeks,” said Miracle Smith, a junior at Penn Treaty High, asked how she’d feel about attending class in person. “You might pass that on to somebody else and you wouldn’t know until the symptoms start to show up.”

On the other side, there are concerns about how effective virtual classrooms can be, especially for certain students or subjects.

“I go to an art school,” said Kaitlyn Rodriguez, a sophomore at Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. “I feel like online wouldn’t be as beneficial for art or ceramics.”

Then there’s the fact that some teachers are also parents, with kids who go to school in districts that do have in-person learning.

“There are a lot of teachers who are also parents,” said Yomari Kiefer, a teacher at Penn Treaty. “My kids…as of last week they’re slated to go full-time. It could change at any given time, and then what do I do when they’re home?”

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

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