As Philly students get laptops, district prepares for online classes in May

Mike DeNardo
April 03, 2020 - 1:55 pm
Superintendent William Hite talks to reporters in a Zoom video conference call

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia school students are beginning to pick up laptops to learn from home during the coronavirus closure. 

As the School District of Philadelphia distributes 50,000 newly purchased Chromebooks so students can connect to classes online, Superintendent William Hite says the plan is to have teachers presenting review material starting the week of April 20, with actual classes, where attendance will be taken and grades issued beginning next month.

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"We would like to start grading in May, but that's going to be informed by how many children still do not have access," Hite said in a video conference call with reporters.

Hite added the district is negotiating a deal for mobile hotspots for students who do not have internet access.

"This is new for a lot of people," Hite said. "We didn't want students to be punished with grades for things that were essentially out of their control."

He says it's essential that students get their Chromebooks.

"We do have expectations for children to be graded using these," he said. "And so, everybody needs to engage in this process."

Hite says right now there are no plans to extend the school year for students past the scheduled end date of June 12. The state education secretary has already said no school year can run past June 30.