Pittsburgh Public Schools under emergency response plan due to coronavirus

For New Pittsburgh Courier

Following the sudden closure of all schools across the Commonwealth, the New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D., swiftly activated the District’s Comprehensive Emergency Response Plan. In this press release sent to the Courier, the plan details operation protocols for the District’s nearly 4,200 employees and 23,000 students during the unprecedented 10-day closure of 54 schools, eight early childhood education centers and three center programs. The Courier has learned that schools in Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania could be ordered to remain closed for a period longer than March 27.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet is visiting locations across the District to assess the state of operations and inform further action.

“As a large urban district, we have to be prepared for any public safety crisis. Fortunately, significant planning has been underway in anticipation of the need to close schools to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Hamlet in this press release. “As an educational institution, we are compelled to balance the need to act in an abundance of caution to ensure student and staff safety with meeting the needs of our staff and students, especially those students who are most vulnerable.”

From securing meal service for students to ensuring financial security for staff and their families the District has put the following operation protocols in place.

Student Meals

Grab and Go meals will be available at all 54 school locations, as well as the District’s two alternative schools (Clayton Academy and Student Achievement Center) and stand-alone Early Childhood Education Centers (Chartiers, Crescent and Spring Garden). Meals will be distributed between 11 am to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday until March 20. Students do not have to go to their current school and can grab a meal at the school located closest to their home. Deliveries of food to the East Hills Community Center, Northview Heights Recreation Center and Housing Authority location in Glen Hazel will also take place. The District will evaluate student participation in meal distribution to determine regional sites for the second week of closure.

Supplemental Student Activities

On Wednesday, March 18, optional grade-level activity packets will be available on Schoology, which is accessible through the District’s CLEVER portal located at www.pghschools.org/studentresources. A helpful video on how to use and login to CLEVER can be found on the District’s VIMEO page at https://vimeo.com/354396666.

Printed packets will be available for students next week. Completion of grade-level activity packets is optional and will not count towards student grades.

In response to COVID-19, Comcast is offering free access to its Wi-Fi hotspots. The District has had a long-standing partnership with Comcast to promote its Internet Essentials resource for eligible low-income customers. Comcast announced that new eligible low-income customers would receive services free for 60 days.

Student Medication 

Parents were able to pick up their child’s medication from the school nurse on March 16-17. After March 17, prescription pick up will not be available until schools reopen.

Staff Access to Closed Facilities

While schools and facilities are closed, there remains a need to prepare school buildings for reopening, continue communications, order supplies and food, maintain financial operations, pay employees, make and distribute student meals and provide a level of security. Essential Central Office personnel have been identified and will report to work.

Staff Compensation during Closure 

The District understands the need to ensure financial security for staff during the emergency work stoppage. All semimonthly employees and biweekly employees who have regular standard hours will continue to be paid during the closure. All biweekly employees will receive the base standard hours of pay. Time will be entered centrally and paydays will continue to follow the 2019-2020 payroll schedule posted on the District’s website.

Spring Break 

At this time, the District does not anticipate an interruption to Spring Break scheduled to take place April 6-13.

All athletics and events are canceled during the closure, as well as all building permits.

A detailed FAQ is available on the District’s website at www.pghschools.org/coronavirus.

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