Online instruction that counts begins for Philly school students

Mike DeNardo
May 04, 2020 - 9:32 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia teachers are now giving grades to students for online assignments given during the coronavirus shutdown. 

After two weeks of reviews, teachers are now presenting new material in their Google Classrooms, taking attendance, tracking participation and grading assignments. 

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Superintendent William Hite says students learning online shouldn't be punished for circumstances beyond their control. 

"We don't want it to be punitive. We actually want it, as best we can, it to help young people," Hite said.

The grades given won't bring down a student's final average.

"We also want to make sure our young people are put in the best position to be promoted. So the grades are really designed as a way to give feedback, but it is structured to do no harm to students."

The district has distributed more than 81,000 Chromebooks to students to learn from home during the pandemic. Superintendent William Hite says, for students who do not have home internet access, or who haven't been able to get free or reduced-rate connections, the district is beginning to give out some hotspots.

"We are beginning a phase of distributing mobile hotspots. Those mobile hotspots cost as much as the machines do, and so we don't have the ability to purchase those for every child," Hite said.

He says some schools have distributed the laptops to all of their students, and others to as little as three percent. The average, he says, is 71 percent. He says the district still has students and families that for whatever reason, they just haven't located during the coronavirus closure.