Pittsburgh Public Schools making changes to indoor mask policy based on community level

PITTSBURGH — On Wednesday evening, the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors approved changes to the district’s state-required Health and Safety Plan, making masking in schools optional.

The district originally planned to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current guidelines, which state that masking is no longer recommended for schools in communities with low to medium risk of COVID-19 spread. However, during the meeting, a board member proposed an amendment that when COVID levels rise to medium transmission risk, masking will go back into place. That amendment was passed.

So, when will PPS switch to mask optional?

Originally, the change was proposed to start on Thursday, but a board member raised concern that it wouldn’t give families enough time, especially those that have a student with disabilities, to make accommodations.

Now, the start date for mask optional has been moved to next week.

According to the district, changes to the plan also include updates to the District’s Decision Tree, which will decrease the number of days of isolation from 10 days to at least a full five days until symptoms improve and no fever is present for at least 24 hours, without fever-reducing medication.

Students and staff who end isolation may return to school with the strict use of a well-fitting mask on days six to 10. It is preferred that individuals do rapid antigen testing upon return on day six, if possible, especially if they cannot wear a well-fitted mask.

The district announced to staff and families that the changes to the Health and Safety Plan and COVID-19 Decision Tree will be shared this week.