PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The hallways and classrooms inside Pittsburgh Public Schools buildings will be busy once again — but not with students just yet.
For months, teachers within Pittsburgh Public have been teaching virtually. It’s been tough for them and students, but with staff working inside buildings Monday, we’re getting closer to that sense of normalcy.
Getting work done inside the building is something teachers and staff at Pittsburgh Public haven’t done in a long time. And at this point, a majority of them have been vaccinated before students arrive. In fact, the first group of students in the category four model will be arriving to class on April 6.
“People are ready to get back, people are anxious to get back,” said Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis.
Many of them haven’t stepped inside a school building since November.
“It was right when things peaked. So within one week, the district had to close eight buildings so that was just poor timing,” said Esposito-Visgitis.
Despite the delays, Esposito-Visgitis is giving credit to the district for being open about their many changes and plans.
“They’re upgrading ventilation, they have gotten HEPA filters and they’re installing them in isolation rooms, cafeterias and offices. They’ve been very transparent about that. Which I think is very key,” said Esposito-Visgitis.
To get back to some sense of normalcy, the district has been busy setting up the classrooms. They purchased over 200 air purifiers to make sure there’s adequate ventilation.
What also was key? The vaccine. The district’s teachers were part of a massive vaccination clinic.
“Went off without a hitch, without a hitch. And it set a positive tone. People need to feel safe. We want our students to feel safe. The teachers need to feel safe too, and I think that’s really important,” said Esposito-Visgitis.
And to make sure all are safe, the district decided to keep students 6 feet apart, despite the CDC recently revising its guidelines to have students sit 3 feet apart.
“We’ve done a lot of work in moving furniture, so it’s two fold. We just want to stay extra safe and in line with our current structure and we want to focus on getting our students back and we aren’t in the place where we can shift,” said Ebony Pugh, Director of Public Relations for Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Public plans to bring the next group of students in category three back on April 26.
As for the last two groups, the district hopes to have definitive return dates by the end of April.
Pittsburgh Public will hold a virtual public hearing tonight. It will begin at 6:00 p.m.
For more information and how to tune in to the hearing, click here.