Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said logistics show staffing and transportation are good to go next month.By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The countdown is on for the return to school for Pittsburgh Public students and teachers.

“This is a great ending to a great week, but it’s only just begun,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.

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KDKA has learned the mayor’s office helped connect Pittsburgh Public Schools and Giant Eagle to allow the opportunity for any staff member to get vaccinated. It’s an extra level of protection as schools start to return to in-person learning.

“Unlike our suburban neighbors, our city schools just aren’t as equipped to learn from home,” Peduto said.

That digital divide created challenges throughout the last year. Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet said the positives and negatives factored into the return-to-school plan.

“We know some kids are thriving right now in Pittsburgh Public Schools. But we also know there are students that are not accessing the remote learning like they should, and that’s why we created the phased-in approach based on need,” Hamlet said.

The first group of 5,000 students and staff return on April 6.

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“We are double-checking to make sure we have masks, PPE, sanitizers,” Hamlet said.

While the physical preps are underway, Hamlet is reinforcing expectations across the district.

“Don’t congregate together, don’t eat lunch together. We have to follow the CDC rules to make this work,” Hamlet said.

Hamlet said logistics show staffing and transportation are good to go next month, but you won’t see anyone return earlier than scheduled.

“Right now, we are just focused. We have the capacity, and everything is in place. Also, there are still CDC guidelines and six-foot distances we have to follow, so that’s going to limit the number of people we can have in a building or classroom at one time,” Hamlet said.

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Hamlet told KDKA he hopes to have firm dates next week on when the rest of the students will return to the classroom.