After almost a year of virtual learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, Philadelphia's youngest students will see the inside of a classroom in February. "We've relied on science and data to help inform every step that we've taken to develop and implement a plan," superintendent William Hite said.
The reopening comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced there's little evidence of coronavirus transmission in schools if precautions are followed. In addition to face masks, physical distancing and increased room ventilation, schools need to limit risky activities like indoor sports and restricting indoor dining.
Dr. Joseph Allen, the director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard School of Public Health, called school closures "a national emergency."
"We are seeing the devastating cost just pile on top of each other," he said. "The reports we see on suicides and decreases in literacy, less access to food, food insecurity issues."
The new data "supports that schools are not the source or not contributing in meaningful ways to community spread," Allen said.
But across the country, the divisive debate rages between districts and teachers unions refusing to return. Chicago, the nation's third-largest school district, is on the brink of a teacher strike.
"My message to the teachers unions is we need you guys," said Tameika Hinton, a single mother to 10-year-old Destin.
Hinton had to move in with her grandfather after cutting her work hours to be able to stay home to supervise her child's learning.
One reason unions are pushing back on returning is because there are only 23 states that prioritize teachers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Biden administration is seeking to get younger students back in the classroom as soon as possible. The White House confirmed to CBS News that President Biden's goal to reopen a majority of schools in his first 100 days does not apply to high schools and there's no word of a timeline for reopening secondary schools.