Pittsburgh Public Schools plans to return nearly half of its students to part-time, in-person learning in April.
Late Monday night the district issued a release detailing four categories PPS will use to “equitably identify students who are struggling most.” This week it will begin to survey families to “capture parent comfort levels and desire for in-person hybrid learning.”
According to the release, the district will use parent survey data, student attendance, performance in math and English language arts, social emotional learning strengths, Individualized Education Plan, or English language services to place students in the following categories:
- 1: student demonstrating positive process in eLearning
- 2: student demonstrating progress in in eLearning
- 3: student demonstrating some progress in eLearning
- 4: student is not demonstrating progress and/or is in kindergarten or pre-k
Approximately 4,786 students will be prioritized for group 4 and will return when schools open April 6. Students in category 3 will return April 26. The district says 5,212 students will be in that group. Students will return for two days a week in cohorts. Schools will be closed Wednesdays for cleaning.
“Plans for support categories 1 and 2 will be evaluated based on social distancing guidelines and the number of families who decide to remain in remote instruction,” the release states.
Families will be notified of their students’ category by early March.
As of the beginning of February, neither the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers nor PPS had surveyed teachers about their willingness to return with students in-person. The PFT board unanimously approved a resolution in January urging the district to delay the start of in-person learning until school personnel could receive both doses of a vaccination.
The new Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ guidance states that access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools.
“Our administration understands the resistance from our teachers and their union, and we agree that our teachers should be prioritized to receive COVID-19 vaccine. As a district, we are doing everything we can to work with our healthcare partners like UPMC to schedule vaccinations as quickly as possible as part of 1B vaccinations,” Hamlet said in the release. “However it is unrealistic to continue to postpone the reopening of our schools until every teacher is vaccinated.”
The PPS board is expected to vote on a purchase of 220 air purifiers and replacement filters to be used throughout the district at its Wednesday meeting.