PITTSBURGH — District leaders said COVID-19 numbers released by the Allegheny County Health Department have prompted the school board to consider halting the plan to have students back in school buildings. The resolution would postpone that until after April 6. It’s anticipated school employees would have the vaccine by then.
“Is it more of the teachers not wanting to come back, or is it more of the parents telling you guys they want their kids back in school?” asked reporter Ryan Houston.
“We actually have both. They’re teachers that are concerned. There’s teachers that want to get back in the classroom. There are families that want their kids in school. There are families that say, ‘I’m not sure I’m ready for my kids to go back’,” board president Sylvia Wilson said.
Wilson said the board is torn on the issue. This is the third time school leaders have made this change. Students were supposed to come back in early January, but school officials changed it to February because of COVID-19 cases in the area.
There are two reasons for the proposed change. Teachers were not in Phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. And with the slow rollout, they’re expecting teachers, staff and bus drivers to get the vaccine by April. Also, many families travel for spring break, and this would give them a chance to get tested for the virus before going back to school.
Wilson said she’s not worried about students falling further behind.
“Most of the schools are dealing with the same that we are. They’re not all 100% in-person. Some of them are in-person, but not that many,” she said.
There will be a public comment period for parents to voice their concerns.
“They keep extending it every time they vote on it so I’m really not worried about it. I don’t have too much of an expectation for them to go back in person this year,” parent Gregory Tepper said.
On Wednesday, the board plans to vote on the proposal. If it passes, students will have to wait until early April before they’re back in the classroom.
The Superintendent said they’ll be looking into new summer learning opportunities and increased professional development.
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