PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Public Schools are set to return from winter break on Monday and the district is already feeling the impacts of the holiday season COVID-19 surge.
“With omicron, it’s inevitable that we’re going to see cases in the school,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja.
The district intended to bring all students back to the classroom Monday, sending a notice to parents reiterating that universal indoor mask-wearing will still be mandated as well as distancing and other mitigation efforts.
But staffing issues caused PPS to reverse course at a dozen schools.
The district sent a second notice to impacted parents Sunday night, saying that “due to a staffing shortage caused by positive cases of COVID-19, COVID-related quarantines, and other staff-related absences, students and staff will transition to live streaming educational learning and instruction.”
The impacted schools are:
- Pittsburgh Allegheny PreK-5
- Pittsburgh Carrick High School
- Pittsburgh Crescent Early Childhood Center
- Pittsburgh Greenfield PreK-8
- Pittsburgh Liberty PreK-5
- Pittsburgh Lincoln PreK-5
- Pittsburgh Montessori PreK-5
- Pittsburgh Morrow Prek-8
- Pittsburgh Perry High School
- Pittsburgh Phillips PreK-5
- Pittsburgh Weil PreK-5
- Pittsburgh Whittier PreK-5
According to PPS, virtual learning is only scheduled for Monday.
“This is something that can’t be tolerated,” said Dr. Adalja, in response. “We have rapid tests, we’ve got antivirals, we have vaccines, we have monoclonal antibodies, and we have best practices that occurred in the pre-pandemic era, so there really is no excuse for schools to be going virtual at this point, in 2022, in the pandemic.”
Adalja said he is more worried about the loss of learning from virtual learning than the threat of COVID-19 inside the classroom.
He does caution that the omicron variant will likely spread due to low vaccination rates.
“Specifically, 5 to 11-year-olds have the lowest vaccination rate,” said Adalja. “So, the way to keep omicron away from those children, is to get them vaccinated.”
This Saturday, the district and UPMC will host a COVID-19 “vaccination blitz” at five locations around the city, providing vaccinations and boosters for eligible students , family members and staff. You can register for the event and see locations and times by clicking here.
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