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Philly School District Reveals Summer Meal, Camp Plans

Superintendent William Hite said food distribution is a “critical” issue for students

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The spring term may be ending Friday for students in the School District of Philadelphia, but the district will continue to distribute meals throughout the summer.

The district is partnering with the City of Philadelphia to continue providing food to students, expanding on the 2.7 million meals it has already distributed since schools were forced to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, Superintendent William Hite said. He added that food distribution is a “critical” issue for students.

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“In a number of ways, our youth may be in a position of being the most food secure this summer than we’ve seen in some time,” Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa said. She noted that roughly one out of every eight children in the city experiences some form of food insecurity.

Meals will be distributed at various locations throughout Philadelphia, including Playstreet sites. There will be no income or proof of citizenship requirements for those who wish to get a meal. Food distribution sites can be found here.

Figueroa also talked about the way summer camps will be structured to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Camp counselors and assistants will be in charge of separate cohorts of 10-25 kids, with programming focusing largely on arts and crafts activities and physical activities that don’t require lots of close contact. In other words, basketball and football are out, Figueroa said. Though pools will be closed, Figueroa said children will still be allowed to play in city spraygrounds.

Also over the summer, kids from kindergarten to 11th grade will be allowed to keep district-issued Chromebooks. Hite said they can keep them until the start of the next school year, which has not been determined yet.

High school seniors who have to take summer courses can also keep the laptops, though they’ll have to return them by August 19. Seniors who are graduating on time should return their Chromebooks to their respective schools or to a designated drop-off center between June 16 and 19 or between August 12 and 19.

Meanwhile, the school district is still accepting registration for online summer school, Hite said. Summer academic programs will be designed to prevent learning loss.

As for how school will look beyond this summer, things are still up in the air.

On Monday, the district will release a “framework” and a survey about the fall term, Hite said. Two more surveys will be conducted after that, with the district expected to release a plan by mid-July. Hite said, though, that there will not be a “one size fits all” solution, with individual schools expected to be given leeway as to how they may structure in-person instruction.

Students and teachers more vulnerable to the virus may not be required to attend in-person classes at all, he said.

“I suspect we will be back in buildings, but who is back in buildings is still part of what is being determined and considered now,” Hite said.

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