This story originally published at WHYY
The School District of Philadelphia announced Thursday that schools will remain open during a potential SEPTA strike. The transit workers’ contract expires Sunday and the union has already authorized the ability to initiate a work stoppage.
Superintendent William Hite said schools should remain open to provide students with a “sense of community and support services that they need for their social, emotional, and academic well-being.”
The district had previously sent communications to parents and staff asking them to prepare for the possibility of a return to virtual education if a strike occurred.
On Thursday, Hite tied the reason for staying open with the rise of gun violence in the city, “Now more than ever, our schools are safe havens for thousands of students who are experiencing the very real impacts of increasing gun violence and other traumas impacting our communities.”
The district said it is not equipped with enough drivers to transport students to school who are not already assigned to a yellow bus route.
For students who cannot attend in-person due to the SEPTA strike, they are expected to log into Google Classroom and complete assignments on their own. The district is not offering a hybrid learning option.
All staff are also expected to attend school on their regular schedules. The district said this decision was based on district-wide survey results revealing that the majority of employees can find alternate ways to work.