PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Public Schools leaders met virtually Thursday to continue discussions about reopening schools.
The official reopening plan is still being modified by a district sub-committee before it’s sent to the school board for approval. But Thursday they gave a status update on that plan to let the public know what the classroom might look like come fall under CDC guidelines.
“There are a number of recommendations, maybe even a hundred, many many, but the devil is in the details that we have to work out,” said Nina Esposito-Visgitis with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.
When school starts, the district says it wants parents to choose between online full-time or hybrid learning.
PPS hopes to supply all staffers and its 32,000 students with the necessary technology. The district also plans to supply everyone coming into the buildings with PPE like masks or face shields.
HAPPENING NOW: Getting an update from @PPSnews about the status of the district’s fall re-opening plan.
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Sanitizing stations will be fixed and filled, and desks might even be divided with three-sided shields.
“We are also addressing the needs of our at-risk students,” says Chief Operations Officer Pam Capretta.
The plan partially relies on federal CARES Act funding, which President Trump recently threatened to withhold if schools don’t fully reopen.
The district says federal funds only make up roughly 7 percent of its budget and says safety comes first.
“We’re not trying to barter or broker the safety of our students, our faculty, our staff and our community to open our economy,” PPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet says.
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Many parents feel there aren’t any easy answers when it comes to what’s best for their children going back to school.
“We’re really nervous about the kids going back to school,” said Jessica Graves, a mother of two. “Kids aren’t able to social distance and it’s really stressful to try to get them to.”
Graves is concerned about all aspects of their health in the pandemic.
“It seems like we’re weighing physical health and emotional health. They’re so interconnected, it’s seems really hard to split them apart. We’re just leaning toward physical health,” she added.
“I often wonder if it safe to send my kid back to school,” Greer Hughes-Cotter told KDKA’s Lisa Washington. “But on the other hand, my son can’t stay home all day every day.”
Pittsburgh Public Schools administrators will listen to recommendations from stakeholders to determine the best way to reopen schools, keeping students and staff safe.
The stakeholders have formed 14 subcommittees, including academic programming, family support and wellbeing, communication, outreach and community coordination. The subcommittees will share their recommendations with the administration.
“Nothing feels right,” Hughes-Cotter says. “It doesn’t feel right to leave him home and it doesn’t feel safe to send him to school, so everyone’s a little nervous.”
The district said the final reopening plan will be drafted up in the coming weeks.