PHILADELPHIA – Today, hundreds of Philadelphia students participated in virtual learning at 31 new Access Centers supported by the City of Philadelphia. Access Centers are supervised, connected spaces where students in grades K-6 can participate in virtual learning while school buildings are closed.
At Simpson Recreation Center, one of the new Access Centers opening today, students were greeted by Cynthia Figueroa, Deputy Mayor for the Office of Children and Families, and Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. All Access Center students received PHLConnectED backpacks and school supplies, thanks to a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
“The City is proud to support students and families by providing reliable, supervised spaces where children can learn virtually,” said Deputy Mayor Figueroa. “We appreciate all of the Access Center partners who have rallied together to support families and children as we start an extraordinarily unusual school year.”
The City of Philadelphia established Access Centers to serve the City’s most vulnerable children while fully-digital learning is in place, providing eligible K–6 students with a safe, supervised environment to access digital learning. Pre-registration is required, and priority is given to children of caregivers who need to work outside the home and cannot provide or afford supervision. The 31 Access Centers now open are located in select Parks and Recreation facilities, Free Library branches, and Philadelphia Housing Authority sites.
“Access Centers will give children welcoming, connected places to learn – and give families peace of mind,” said Commissioner Ott Lovell. “We’re proud to bring this option to Philadelphia families by repurposing many of our City’s recreation centers, and to draw on our successful camp season to inform Access Center health and safety operations.”
Access Centers use the following strategies to safely care for students and staff in the centers:
- Cohorts of 25: To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, each center serves a limited number of students. Students are grouped into small cohorts of 25 that do not interact with each other. Each cohort is, at most, 22 students and 3 staff.
- Masks: The Access Centers require masks for all staff and students. Students and staff may wear their own masks or one will be provided for them.
- Daily temperature checks on arrival.
- Social Distancing: The centers use designated entrances and exits to support social distancing.
- Inside the centers, students learn at desks that are spaced 6 feet apart.
- Access Centers go through deep sanitation at the beginning and end of each day.
Registration for phase two of Access Centers is now open, adding 46 sites for families to utilize. A total of 77 sites in phases one and two will serve about 2,200 K-6 students during digital learning time this fall. Phase two Access Center sites will open on September 21 at Office of Children and Families provider locations, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and Free Library sites.
Visit phila.gov/accesscenters to view all the sites and find eligibility information. Eligible families can fill out the online interest form to start the registration process. Those who need help filling out the form can call (215) 709-5366, Monday–Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Space is limited, and filling out the interest form is the first step for registration but does not guarantee placement in an Access Center.