Mar 2, 2022 - COVID

Philly schools relax testing rules for teachers but keep mask mandate

Illustration of an apple wearing a covid mask.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The School District of Philadelphia will no longer test vaccinated staff each week, starting March 14.

  • But it will keep mask mandates in place, superintendent William Hite announced to staff earlier this week.

Driving the news: The CDC eased its recommendation for universal school masking last week.

  • The new guidance says people living in counties with low or medium levels of COVID can stop wearing masks if they want.

Details: From March 14-25, the Philly district's vaccinated employees will have the option to test on-site, but it won't be required.

  • Unvaccinated staff members still have to regularly test, but they will only be required to do so once a week after March 14.

What they're saying: "For now, given the many hours we spend together indoors, we will continue to require staff and students to wear masks while in schools and offices," Hite wrote in his letter to staff.

  • Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, described the protocol change as "reasonable" and told Axios he doesn't desire any additional COVID-19 mitigation measures at this time.

Zoom out: Philly is keeping its mask requirement in place despite the new CDC guidelines.

  • The city's new four-tiered system adopted last month outlines when COVID restrictions are necessary. Under the city's current Level 2 status, masks are required indoors.

Meanwhile, suburban high schools under the Archdiocese of Philadelphia moved to a mask-optional policy Monday.

Of note: Some Pennsylvania districts, like Upper Darby, dropped masking requirements before the CDC changes.

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the statewide school mask mandate in December.

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