TyLisa C. Johnson is the education reporter at PublicSource. She’s passionate about telling compelling human stories that intersect with complex issues affecting marginalized groups. Before joining PublicSource, she wrote stories about a range of issues from poverty and hunger to crime and public libraries at publications around the country, including The Dallas Morning News, Tampa Bay Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has freelanced for publications including Business Insider and The Points Guy. She’s a proud 2017 graduate of Florida A&M University, and can often be found planning a trip somewhere new or crocheting a scarf. Pronouns: She/her
Back-to-school traditions were upended for many students as they returned to school this year: no long-awaited hugs from sunburned friends, no hallway time to catch up about their summer adventures and no in-person icebreakers to make connections with teachers.
Pittsburgh Public Schools said at a Tuesday board meeting it found nearly 2,500 students still lacked devices for remote learning, according to a survey being circulated by homeroom teachers. Despite the week delay, students may continue to go without technology when classes start if the deliveries don't arrive before next week.
Many Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS] parents were stunned when a Saturday evening robocall alerted them that school would be postponed a week due to “unexpected delays” in receiving technology needed for every student to access e-learning. Questions flooded the district’s Facebook page, with parents and students inquiring about how the district made its decision and what will come next for students and teachers.
Related: Pittsburgh Public delayed to meet student tech needs, but still may notWhether the demand for computers is going to be met is still in question. The district remains optimistic. But the school year will start either way. PublicSource asked district spokeswoman Ebony Pugh some of the most pressing questions and added information addressed at Tuesday and Wednesday PPS board meetings.
At last, details of the health and safety plan for Pittsburgh Public Schools were released Wednesday at the start of the school board’s July legislative meeting. It was also proposed by a board member that staff and students begin the first nine weeks of the school year in full-time e-learning. The release of the 59-page health and safety plan comes two days after a public hearing, where multiple speakers voiced worries to the board about the return to school in the fall.
Pam Capretta, district chief operations officer, presented key aspects from the plan regarding cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, monitoring, social distancing and other health and safety protocols. More than 770 viewers were tuned into the livestream. The school board’s vote on the plan was postponed until Aug.
It’s a historic task in the making. How can Pittsburgh Public Schools reopen by the end of next month? More than 300 parents, students, educators, public and health officials, community members and dozens of organizations collaborated on the undertaking. They spent hundreds of hours conversing about what families and staff need for a safe return to Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS] as part of the district’s All In to Reopen Our Schools campaign. On Wednesday, 407 recommendations for the district from the campaign’s 14 subcommittees on topics from instruction to health and safety were made public on the district website.
Some parents and public school advocates have criticized the funding going to cyber charter schools, noting that already-virtual cyber operations meant little-to-no disruption, while brick-and-mortar schools — many already in dire need — struggled to get technology essential for remote learning.