Districts Go Round And Round On School Bus Reopening Plans

Aug 5, 2020
Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

School districts nationwide puzzling over how to safely educate children during a pandemic have a more immediate challenge — getting 26 million bus-riding students there in the first place.

Craig Mitchelldyer / AP

Central office staff for the state’s second largest school district outlined a comprehensive plan for remote learning Tuesday, a plan that requires nearly 19,000 computers and tablets that the district doesn't have on hand yet.

Wolf Ed Head Takes New Job As Schools Grapple With Reopening

Aug 4, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's education secretary announced Tuesday he will be leaving the job to take another position, as schools throughout the state are scrambling to develop and implement pandemic reopening plans.

Courtesy of Arcade Comedy Theater

For nearly five months, the coronavirus pandemic has confined Pittsburgh’s performing-arts groups almost exclusively to online programming. Even after state rules loosened to allow performance halls to operate at reduced capacity, most decided it was unsafe or simply impractical to do so.

PA Cancels On Volunteer Coronavirus Contact Tracers, Moves To Hire 1,000 Paid Staff

Aug 4, 2020
Dan Nott / For Spotlight PA

The Pennsylvania Health Department last week abruptly canceled a session to train volunteers to trace the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus, a critical practice in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania health officials on Monday reported no new deaths attributed to COVID-19 for the first time in more than four months.

Kate Landis / PA Post

The Pennsylvania Department of State on Saturday released a report on the June 2 presidential primary that includes recommendations for revamping the state’s election code ahead of the November general election.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

“A matter of life and death.” That was the message demonstrators conveyed Friday afternoon during a march and rally through downtown for non-discrimination protections of LGBTQ people.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is hiring 1,000 additional contract tracers to bolster the state’s efforts to contain coronavirus outbreaks by quickly notifying people who might have been exposed.

PA Business Owners To Wolf: Please Police Mask Requirement So We Don't Have To

Jul 31, 2020
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

David Evasew is not taking the threat of the pandemic lightly.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Vice President Mike Pence was in Westmoreland County Thursday at a “Cops for Trump” event. He greeted a crowd of supporters outside the police station in Greensburg, most of whom weren’t wearing masks or social distancing.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 Pennsylvania health officials on Thursday reported 860 additional cases of the coronavirus, and 14 new deaths.

Matt Rourke / AP


On today's program: Pittsburgh-area employees filed 100 complaints related to COVID-19 concerns with OSHA in the early months of the pandemic; professional sports teams with racist names and logos consider rebranding; and RealTime Interventions, a local live-arts production company, takes its events online.

Craig Mitchelldyer / AP

In a virtual hearing Wednesday evening, Pittsburgh Public Schools administrators heard public comment about a proposal to start the school year exclusively online instead of a hybrid model that would include some in-person instruction. The majority of statements were in favor of the remote-only model.


Bars and restaurants still top the list of the most common places visited by people in Allegheny County prior to testing positive for COVID-19. But county data show that compared to previous weeks, the number of visits to these venues has fallen.

Alan Diaz / AP


On today's program: The Trump campaign is suing 67 Pennsylvania counties over mail-in ballots; a key demographic that elected Donald Trump in the 2016 election is changing; and Carnegie Mellon University is using a phased approach to bring researchers back to the lab.

Universal Testing Complete At PA Nursing Homes

Jul 28, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Thursday that all skilled nursing facilities have now complied with a state order to test all staff and residents for COVID-19. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the third time in less than a week and the sixth time this month as some regions of the state continue to see rising case numbers.

Hans Pennink / AP


On today's program: A possible COVID-19 vaccine moves into Phase 3 trials, but it could be another minimum of six months until Americans get the drug; the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is pushing for a system-wide redesign; and a brief history of the Pittsburgh left. 

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvanians who receive unemployment benefits will be short $600 dollars this week; the weekly $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation expired for Pennsylvanians on Saturday, and Congress has yet to decide to renew the additional payment. 

Michelle R. Smith / AP


On today's program: A presidential memorandum on the U.S. Census could impact historically undercounted communities; the Biden campaign’s recommended climate change policy and the impacts on the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania; and how the candidates' policies on climate change might influence voters in the November election. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

“Panic mode.” “Evolve to survive.” “Downsize.” 


That's how owners and workers at local bars and restaurants have described the last few months, as they struggled to keep their businesses afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. They say that recent changes to customer capacity and other safety protocols have made this time even more difficult to navigate.

Courtesy of Wendy Gilch

With fewer child care options and health and safety concerns, getting work done at home while also keeping an eye on her two children has been a struggle for Wendy Gilch.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It’s getting harder to get tested for COVID-19 without symptoms in the Pittsburgh region. The Allegheny County Health Department suggests people who think they may have been exposed but are not experiencing symptoms skip the test and instead quarantine for 14 days.

PA Schools Setting In-Person Teaching Rules As Pandemic Spreads

Jul 24, 2020
Charlie Neibergall / AP

The many Pennsylvania school districts that have not settled on how and when they will restart instruction this fall will be making decisions in the coming weeks, and the pandemic plans that have been produced so far are all over the map.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools first day of school is scheduled for August 31st, just a little more than five weeks away. But it’ll be at least another week and a half before families know for sure what fall instruction is going to look like. While some districts are offering a hybrid model, with both online and in-person instruction, others haven’t made up their minds yet, including PPS.

School Openings Hinge On Case Counts, Health Official Warns

Jul 23, 2020
Chris Carlson / AP

Every region of Pennsylvania has seen an increase in the rate of positive coronavirus cases and failing to stop that could jeopardize the reopening of schools for the fall semester, the state's top health official said Thursday.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: PWSA and elected officials announced the lead levels in water are now in compliance with EPA and DEP requirements; on the 30th anniversary of the ADA, advocates and activists look to the  future; and a new grant program will help minority business owners in Pennsylvania struggling due to the coronavirus. 

New PA Grant Targets Minority Business Owners Hurt By Coronavirus Shutdown

Jul 23, 2020
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

On a recent sweltering afternoon, Akeem Dixon and Christine Brown stepped out of their North Philadelphia office to do something that’s become increasingly rare during the COVID-19 shutdown: in-person outreach.

As Deadline Looms To Renew $600 Jobless Benefits, PA ‘Workers Are Terrified’

Jul 22, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

This week, Congress is considering another pandemic stimulus package, as unemployment remains stubbornly high across the country and coronavirus cases rise nationwide.