Pittsburgh Public Schools Preparing For Online Instruction

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet
Photo credit Joe DeStio/ KDKA Radio
By NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers and students are preparing for a new way to learn.

Beginning April 16, “at home” instruction will begin for the district’s 1,700 teachers and 23,000 students.

Teachers will be receive training on Tuesday on how to move forward with online instruction.

Distribution of online materials to students will happen on April 14 and 15.

“During this unprecedented time for all of us, among those systems most affected are our urban schools, which serve so many of our most vulnerable children,” said Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments. “We know there are many students who rely on school for their next meal, counseling, mental-health services, access to technology, and of course learning. In the absence of traditional schooling, it is the responsibility of all of us in this community to work with the District to ensure that no student is overlooked, and that all of our young people have the real opportunity to learn and grow remotely.”

As of Tuesday, through the completion of 6,148 Home Technology Surveys, the district has learned of over 10,200 students that need access to computers or other way of learning online.

The district also has discovered that five percent of families who filed out the survey said they do not have access to the internet and they expect that number is expected to grow as officials continue to reach out to families.

Hard to reach families are being contacted directly.

The surveys are also available at the Grab and Go sites across the city until April 1.

“We understand how important it is to get our region’s students back to school and back to learning. We also know there is a desire across the community to step up and help – whether it be by providing equipment and supplies for frontline workers, providing food and resources to those in need, or, in this case, by ensuring our schools have the equipment needed to effectively transition to remote, at-home instruction,” said Stefani Pashman, CEO, Allegheny Conference.  “The Conference stands ready to support the Pittsburgh Public Schools as they work to get the needed technology in the hands of all students. “

 “As we anticipate the need of staff and students to surpass our current inventory of one-to-one devices, the support of our partners will be critical,” said Dr. Hamlet.  “We are grateful to those who have already reached out to ask, “How can I help?” and look forward to creating partnerships to bridge the digital divide that exists between the haves and have nots. Superintendent Anthony Hamlet continued, “As these supports develop, we know we can’t delay getting students the instruction they need.  It is for this reason; any at-home learning initiative will require instruction to take place both online and via instructional packets.”

The district says they plan to buy 5,000 new laptops to add to the 2,500 already available and will receive an additional 599 devices from the University of Pittsburgh.

The district adds they will continue to look for ways to secure additional devices.

Computers will be distributed first to high school seniors who need them on Thursday, April 9.

Printed instructional packets will be given to students who are unable to complete the online packets.

“Biweekly distribution of packets will occur via Grab and Go locations. Additional means for distribution are still under development,” a release from the district said.

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