PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Several school districts went back to class on Monday, but it didn’t mean they were in the building. For Pittsburgh Public, a dozen schools were forced to learn remotely because of staffing shortages due to COVID cases and quarantines.

“It’s very discouraging to see the numbers going up, not just in Pennsylvania, but across the country,” Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis said.

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Over Zoom, she said the district is doing everything it can to keep everyone in the classroom. The union and district are working with parents to make sure everyone stays safe.

“If we want to keep our schools open, this is a team effort,” Esposito-Visgitis said. “It can’t just be the teachers. It can’t just be the principals. It can’t just be the district. We need the parents’ support. We all need to be holding hands together on this.”

Allegheny Health Network pediatrician Dr. Michael Petrosky said we have to be a little more careful as Omicron spreads and cases rise after the holidays.

“More vigilant now. It looks like these numbers may not spike for a couple more weeks in this area,” Dr. Petrosky said over Zoom.

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He said the district needs to enforce their health and safety plans. The doctor advised it might not be the best time to get rid of masking policies. Both he and the teachers union said vaccinations will help keep kids in school as well.

“The big risk is these numbers will climb a lot higher, faster. The concern is the strain it would put on the health care system,” Dr. Petrosky said.

He said the hospitals are not overwhelmed, and they want to keep it that way.

The following schools switched to synchronous learning Monday:

  • Pittsburgh Allegheny PreK-5
  • Pittsburgh Carrick High School
  • Pittsburgh Crescent Early Childhood Center
  • Pittsburgh Greenfield PreK-8
  • Pittsburgh Liberty PreK-5
  • Pittsburgh Lincoln PreK-5
  • Pittsburgh Montessori PreK-5
  • Pittsburgh Morrow Prek-8
  • Pittsburgh Perry High School
  • Pittsburgh Phillips PreK-5
  • Pittsburgh Weil PreK-5
  • Pittsburgh Whittier PreK-5

Due to technology challenges, instruction was to take place on Microsoft Teams and students could access work in Schoology. Grab and go meals were still be available from 9 a.m. until noon in each school’s cafeteria.

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The district plans to return to in-person learning on Jan. 4.