HARRISBURG - Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) today rejected the decision to delay opening Philadelphia’s public schools as another sign there is no effective plan to return children to class following the shutdowns caused by COVID-19.
The reopening of schools has been pushed back again, this time until March 1. Schools were scheduled to open today.
“The Democrats in charge of Philadelphia have failed our children again,” White said. “The safety concerns of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers that are causing the delay should have been addressed months ago. All parties involved should have been able to reach a consensus and reopened.”
The city’s Catholic schools have been open all year. Many charter and other private schools are also ready to go. “Our city's public schools can also reopen safely-- and must,” White said. “In the meantime, as the Democrats in City Hall remain silent, our children continue to suffer.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports mental health emergency room visits among children aged 5-11 have increased 24% from the same period in 2019; for children aged 12-17 the increase is 31%.
Attendance rates for virtual learning are down and, academically, children are falling further behind.
“If the majority of public school students do not return to in-person instruction on March 1, we must pass school choice legislation in Harrisburg,” White said. “Let’s help parents fund the cost of their children attending any school of their choice including public, private or charter. I will also be advocating for the expansion of charter schools. It is clear that parents want better alternatives to their children's education as thousands of families applied to local charter schools this month, but were denied due to limited seating which is continually restricted by the school board.”
Normally, the charter schools can object to the denial through an appeals process.
“However, Gov. Wolf is making that process impossible by refusing to appoint members to the Charter Appeals Board, which is preventing charter schools from exercising their legal right to have their appeals heard,” White said. “It’s time to give parents a stronger voice in their children’s education.”
Representative Martina White
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster