How some Pittsburgh-area school districts are planning on reopening during COVID-19 | Coronavirus | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

How some Pittsburgh-area school districts are planning on reopening during COVID-19

click to enlarge Arsenal Elementary School, part of Pittsburgh Public Schools, in Lawrenceville - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Arsenal Elementary School, part of Pittsburgh Public Schools, in Lawrenceville
As schools attempt to figure out what the fall semester will look like for students, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has required all school districts to submit health and safety guidelines laying out their precautions and plans for the upcoming school year, while the country is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The plans explain different options for students, describing new safety measures as well as how rules will change depending on whether the state is in the Red, Yellow, or Green phase. Many schools are offering blended or hybrid model options, as well as options for families to enroll their children in a separate cyber school program. The state Department of Education requires the plans to be approved by the school board, so not every district has yet made theirs available. But a number of Allegheny County schools, including the Pittsburgh Public Schools, have released theirs to the public. Here are some highlights.

Pittsburgh Public Schools
The PPS program would offer either a blended option or fully online cyber school option to students. Students enrolled in the blended option would be placed in two cohorts, which attend in-person school on two days a week, and participate in online classes on the other three days that they are not present.

However, the school board has not yet approved the plan, and board member Kevin Carter introduced an alternate resolution that would have students attending fully remote classes for the first quarter (nine weeks) of the school year. Teacher’s union leadership is supportive of the move to start students at fully remote learning. PPS school board will vote on the plan on Tue., Aug. 4.


North Allegheny School District
North Allegheny will offer two main learning options for students: in-person learning in schools, which has three potential phases depending on the state’s safety restrictions (fully in person, hybrid with a cohort system where students attend in-person classes twice a week, or a fully remote model), or remote learning through NA Cyber Academy. Students will have the opportunity to switch their enrollment to the online or in-person program at the end of each quarter of the school year, if they have changed their decision. NA school board will vote on the plan on Wed., July 29.

Mt. Lebanon School District
Mt. Lebanon has decided to move their first week of school back a week to Aug. 31. Their program offers two main approaches — fully in-person, with the option for the school to move to hybrid options if necessary, and online through the Mt. Lebanon Cyber Academy through Edgenuity. Their cyber school program will include live and recorded instruction. The school board will vote on the plan on Wed., July 29.

Gateway School District
Gateway, in Monroeville, has three options available for students: a “Blended Learning Model,” which uses a cohort system; the Gateway School District Cyber Academy, which functions through a partnership with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit with live-stream teaching; or GATE (Gateway Academy Transitional Education), an online program that combines live and recorded instruction. Students in the Blended Learning Model would be placed into two cohorts, attending class two days a week, with online classes on Wednesday and recorded classes on days students aren’t physically in school. During Red Phase, all students will participate in GATE, or, if specifically enrolled in it, the cyber academy program. The school board approved this plan on July 21, and parents/guardians have until Mon., Aug. 3 to choose options for students.

Moon Area School District
Moon offers traditional and blended options, as well as a fully online school option through the MASD Cyber School program. When traditional learning is in effect, students will attend school five days a week in person, with face shields and masks provided by the school. During blended learning, if conditions change in the district, students will be part of a cohort system, attending in-person class on Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday, and students will be provided with their own iPads (K-4) or laptops (5-12). Students enrolled in the cyber school program through Lincoln Learning will remain online throughout the semester regardless of what phase Pennsylvania is in. The school board approved the plan on July 20 to send to the state Department of Education.

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