Pittsburgh students, teachers getting back into classrooms for start of school year

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Public Schools students and teachers will be back in the classrooms Friday. It will be the first time they’re all back in their school buildings in more than a year.

While in-person learning signals the start of things getting back to normal for Pittsburgh schools, there will still be a lot of changes ahead for students and teachers.

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The start of the school year was supposed to be Aug. 24, but that was changed to Friday because of busing issues -- specifically, a bus driver shortage.

Progress has been made with transportation with the hiring of more drivers, but the problem isn’t completely resolved. Parents of about 200 students still have to find a way to get their children to school. That number is down from an initial 11,000 students.

>>STORY: Parents left figuring out way to school after hundreds of PPS students without busing

To help with the busing issue, the district has staggered start times so that drivers can do multiple routes to get students to school.

Busing aside, safety measures because of the pandemic are in place. That includes wearing masks on buses and in school buildings.

PPS made masks mandatory in classrooms before Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a statewide mandate.

As for COVID-19 vaccines, Pittsburgh’s Board of Education voted last month to make them mandatory for teachers. Any teacher who refuses a vaccine or has a medical or religious exemption would be subject to COVID-19 testing twice a week.