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Pittsburgh Public Schools delays return to in-person classes until April 6

PITTSBURGH — Students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools will not return to in-person classes until April 6 at the earliest. The school board approved the plan with a vote of 7-2 Wednesday night.

The thought behind that is for teachers and bus drivers to be able to get vaccinated for COVID-19. District officials said they are going to work on a plan to prioritize students returning to buildings based on need. More than 70% of district employees said they plan to get the vaccine.

For the past two nights, parents and teachers had been weighing in ahead of the school board vote. Many parents said their children deserve in-person instruction. However, a majority of teachers said they don’t feel comfortable going back without the vaccine.

“I completely understand that we have students who are struggling, but, at this time, keeping everyone safe is the highest priority,” a paraprofessional said. “We can make up for learning loss, but we can’t bring back a staff, student or family member who can possibly pass away from getting COVID.”

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with a new study that could impact the school district’s decision. The study concluded “rapid spread of the virus” in communities hasn’t been connected to schools like it has in nursing homes and other workplaces. The CDC said schools are safe to open, for the most part, but will need to require face masks and increase physical distance and testing. CDC officials are warning, however, that indoor sports could “jeopardize” safety.

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The other side of the debate is what isolation is doing to students. One school in Las Vegas just reported its 19th suicide since schools went virtual last March.

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