Pittsburgh Public Schools has ‘pandemic team’ to help district implement safest plan

PITTSBURGH — Whether Pittsburgh Public School students go back to school at all or turn to online learning is a question all local school districts are grappling with right now.

The district is working with the health department and has three plans in place, complete with details they can turn to at any point.

Those plans include:

  • A blend of in school and online learning.
  • Online learning by a family’s choice.
  • Full-time online learning for all if necessary for the health and safety of all students, staff and families.

If students return to classrooms, they will have to wear masks and socially distance. Buses will only run at about one-third capacity to keep everyone at a safe distance.

There will also be student and staff temperature screenings. 6 to 8 feet distance in learning spaces, no water fountains and deep cleaning of buildings on Wednesdays.

The district is also preparing for worst-case scenarios, and laid out plans if a student or faculty member in a building tests positive for COVID-19.

“If we have a positive case reported, obviously the building will be immediately cleaned, it will be taken offline for two days or to the next cohort. There would be notification to the appropriate staff, the students, the families,” said Pam Capretta, COO of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

A “pandemic team” is monitoring local health data and helping the district implement the safest plan for everyone.

This plan needs to be approved by the board and made public before it is implemented.

Some parents expressed their frustrations with how the process has happened regarding the return-to-class plan.

“From the parents side of the fence, it’s insane that it is a life or death situation for a lot of our families,” said Felicia Snyder, whose child attends PPS.

“I really would like a plan that says, ‘Here’s how your child is going to learn digitally that you will be able to make income for your family.' Like so many other families I went from having two full incomes to a percentage of only one previous income, and it’s not sustainable and at the end of the day,” said Melanie Marie Boyer, a Pine-Richland parent.