Teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools get back into classrooms ahead of students’ return

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers returned to the classrooms Monday to prepare for the return of students.

After more than a year of virtual learning, a plan to resume in-person learning is in motion. It will be a hybrid learning model in which students receive in-person instruction two days a week and learn remotely three days a week.

“The resilience of teachers is absolutely amazing, and I do have to commend them again because, once again, they’re pivoting into brand new territory because now you’re going to have students on the computer and students right in front of you,” Nina Esposito-Visgitis, President of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, said.

Roughly 4,700 younger students and those who have struggled with online learning will return to the classrooms on April 6. Another group will start up in-person learning again at the end of April.

Overall, the goal is to have all students back in classrooms before the end of the school year.

The transition back to in-person learning comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its social distancing guidance for students, recommending they stay at least 3 feet apart instead of 6 feet.

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However, PPS officials said they will stick to the 6-feet rule out of an abundance of caution and partially because they’ve already removed quite a bit of furniture from schools.

The district also has a plan to update its ventilation systems in school buildings to make sure there’s proper airflow in and out of the buildings.

Teachers and staff started getting vaccinated against COVID-19 roughly two weeks ago, with K-5 and special education teachers, as well as bus drivers, receiving their first shots. The remaining staff will get shots in the days ahead.