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Parents Raise Concerns About Philadelphia School District's Reopening Plan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia public school parents got their first look at what school may look like in the fall under the school district's reopening plan, which was released Wednesday morning.

Parents say they are conflicted.

"As a nurse, I can't say that I approve of them going back to school without the numbers going down," said Syreeta Turner.

Every child from pre-K through the 12th grade will be required to wear a mask. Turner has worked to get her son used to it.

"At first, he was a little bit not wanting to do it but now he wears the mask, he understands why he has to wear the mask," she said.

Students will be divided into two groups. The first group will go to school for in-person instruction Monday and Wednesday -- the second group on Tuesday and Thursday.

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Friday will be a virtual learning day for everyone. Parents can also opt for all virtual learning for their child.

"We know it's going to require sacrifices from a lot of individuals, but it is, once again, it's why we kept that virtual option there to take if, in fact, families feel that's a better option for them," Superintendent Dr. William Hite said.

David Barron, attorney at Cozen O'Connor, says if parents can't work from home or work out a modified schedule with their employers, federal law allows them to use the Family Medical Leave Act.

"The Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was passed back in March amended the Family Medical Leave Act to add a new paid benefit for 12 weeks, which is to take care of a child that is out of school due to COVID reasons."

Danasia Middleton says despite the extensive cleaning regimen and precautions laid out in the district's plan, she feels all virtual learning is the only safe option.

"It'll be better and safer for the children, the elderly, all of the above," she said. "Staying home works for me."

Hite says the district is working to ensure that every student has internet access before the school year begins on Sept. 2. Unlike the previous school year, virtual work will be graded.

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