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PPS announces virtual graduations, efforts to get thousands more students laptops

PITTSBURGH — Remote learning in Pittsburgh Public Schools is underway, but 7,500 students still need laptops, district leaders said Thursday while also announcing graduations will he held virtually.

Laptops will continue to be distributed Friday for grades 9-12, according to Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

So far, 3,470 devices and 240 hotspots have been given to students in grades 9-12. Another 576 devices are ready for middle school students.

The district has ordered 4,000 devices, which are expected to arrive at the end of May, for sixth- and seventh-graders.

A $360,000 donation from the Heinz Endowments will help to purchase more devices and technology.

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Some feedback from students has been that educational packets have been user-friendly and they like the learning style because it is similar to using social media. Students who either don’t like or are not familiar with typing have the option to handwrite and then send in pictures of their work.

However, some students are running into issues with older or outdated devices. District officials said they are working with those students.

As for grading, Hamlet said all students will pass the fourth quarter.

During Thursday’s virtual update from district officials, high school graduations were also addressed. They will be held virtually on June 13 and 14, though the district is looking into holding secondary in-person commencement ceremonies later in the summer.

More than 1,500 students will be graduating this year.

In-person proms are also being considered for later in the summer, potentially in July or early August.