PPS COVID-19 Response FAQ - Updated May 18, 2020
Logistics and work remain as the COVID-19 Crisis team and Executive Leadership continue to address questions in response to this challenging public health event. The District will regularly update the Frequently Asked Questions below on our website.
PPS Remote Learning
What is the laptop distribution schedule?
As the District continues to purchase laptops, distrbution is coordinated at the school level. The District commuicates grade level distrbution timelines in the Superintendent's COVID-19 updates, which are posted online every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Families will recieve commuication from their school related to device distrbution for their child. If you have a child in need of a device to participate in remote learning, notifiy your school principal or child's teacher.
How do students login to Microsoft Teams?
- Step 1: Go to pghschools.org
- Step 2: Click on yellow clever icon
- Step 3: Click on Student Login
- Step 4: log in to Clever account as you normally would at school
- Step 5 : Click on Microsoft Teams on left menu
- Step 6: Click on Microsoft Teams Icon
- Step 7: Enter your student log-in for Microsoft Sign in this format – “st_ _ _ _ _ _ firstname.lastname@example.org”
- Step 8: Enter your password: st00_ _ _ _ _ _ _
- (This is your nine digit number)
- Step 9: Click on Teams icon
- Congratulations you are ready to engage in online learning!
- You can explore on the left side teams to see the classes you are assigned.
Will there be video instructions/lessons?
Currently, lessons will be provided via physical handouts and online through Microsoft Teams. Please contact your child’s homeroom teacher and/or principal for information by school and grade level.
Will lessons be for new learning, review or both?
Instructional packets will contain of combination of review and new learning.
Where can I find information on remote learning?
Our remote learning website officially launched on Monday, April 13, at www.pghschools.org/remotelearning, to serve as a one-stop-shop of resources for students, families and teachers. The site includes directions and quick links to log in to Microsoft Teams and Clever, as well as videos and student resources. An orientation video, has been added.
When will 3rd Quarter grades be available?
Due to the COVID 19 closure, the deadlines for teacher completion of quarter three grades were delayed. This planned delay allowed district staff time to focus on implementing remote learning while also finalizing student grades. Since 3rd quarter grades are still being finalized, report cards will not ready by Friday, April 17th. We will contact families when 3rd quarter report cards are completed and available for viewing in the Home Access Center (HAC). At this time, you can see your child’s 3rd quarter grades in HAC, but they are not yet finalized.
When does remote instruction start for my child?
All 12th grade students will begin remote instruction online on Thursday, April 16th. All families, who will be using a personal technological device for instruction, should log on beginning April 16 to ensure access and start the use of online tools. Families that do not have access to technology at home can begin to pick up instructional packages based on grade level on Thursday, April 16th. Students can begin working in their instructional package as soon as they bring them home. The last day for instructional package pick up is Tuesday, April 21st. All students will begin remote instruction on Wednesday, April 22nd.
What does the District mean by a “soft” launch?
A “soft” launch is a way to begin remote learning while also allowing time for students, families and staff to get comfortable with a new type of learning. This includes a flexible period of time between Thursday, April 16th and Wednesday, April 22nd before students are held accountable for learning. This flexible time will allow time for staff and students to address technology issues and ensure students without technology have their instructional packages in hand.
Who can I contact if I am having difficulty with technology?
Students and families can contact the District’s Support Center at 412-529-HELP or submit a ticket at www.pghschools.org/letstalk. It is also important to share this information with your child’s teacher.
Who needs to pick up instructional packets?
Only families that do not have access to technology at home should pick up instructional packets. Families that have technology at home do not need to pick up an instructional package. All materials are available online through Microsoft Teams. Children with technology should log into Microsoft Teams based on instructions provided by their child’s teacher.
Where can I pick up my child’s instructional package?
The District, in partnership with the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, created an online tool to identify the school or community site located close to every student. This will ensure families do not have to travel far from their home to pick up instructional packages. The search tool is available on line - https://www.wprdc.org/pps-pickup/. If you do not have internet access, please call 412-529-HELP (4357) and a member of our support team will help you.
When can I pick up my child’s instructional package?
Each PPS student has been assigned to a school closest to their home. To find the school or community location closest to your home, visit: https://www.wprdc.org/pps-pickup/.
How are instructional packages organized?
Instructional packets for students PreK-12 are organized by grade and will include all materials that a student will need for 2 weeks. Families can pick up one packet per grade PreK-8. Students in grades 9-11 will have one packet titled high school.
I received my child’s instructional packet. What are the next steps?
Once your child has their hard copy instructional package in hand and they have heard from their child’s homeroom teacher, they should begin working on completing the packet. Enclosed in each instructional package are multiple sets of instructional material for your child's current grade level. Instructional materials include core content areas for general education students and adapted materials for students with individual education plans and gifted educational plans, as well as English Language Learners. The adapted materials are the same set of core instructional lessons; however, accommodations have been made to the materials. If your child receives special education services, it is recommended that you utilize the accommodated packet for their work. ESL instructional materials focus on skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing that are essential for newcomers to the English language. These core content areas include:
- English Language Arts (ELA)
Science grades 3-8, Social Studies 6-8, and World Language materials will be included in the May packages. In addition to core content areas, the packets include instructional materials in the areas of Arts, Physical Education, and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). If your child struggles with any of the work, please contact their teacher.
Will the instructional packages have accommodations for students with disabilities and English Language Learners?
Yes. The instructional packets include accommodations for students with individualized education plans (IEPs), gifted IEPs and English language learners.
How will my child assigned to a regional classroom and/or center school (Pioneer and Conroy) receive instruction?
Students assigned to regional classrooms or assigned to special schools such as Pioneer and Conroy will have their instructional packages mailed to their homes.
Which one of my child’s teachers should I expect to hear from?
Between Tuesday, April 14th and Tuesday, April 21st, families should expect to hear from their child’s homeroom teacher. Families with students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) should also expect to hear from their child’s special education teacher.
How do I contact my child’s teacher?
Each teacher has been assigned a Microsoft teams # that they can use to connect with students and families. Each teacher will provide this # to students and families. If families need this #, they can contact the District’s support line at 412-529-HELP or submit a ticket at www.pghschools.org/letstalk. Families can also contact teachers via email. Teacher emails are also available online at www.discoverpps.org. When you visit www.discoverpps.org, scroll down the page and find the link to your child’s school. Click on the link to your child’s school and click on the staff button on the left side of the website. This will provide you a list of all staff at your child’s teacher. Please only use the email address, as the phone number is for staff member’s desk phone at the school.
When should I contact my child’s teacher?
It is the District’s expectation that all teachers communicate with students starting on April 16th with the expectation that they will have reached all their students by April 21to establish norms for remote learning. If you do not hear from your child’s teacher or if you do not feel confident they have a way to get in touch with you, please contact the District’s support line at 412-529-HELP or submit a ticket at www.pghschools.org/letstalk to receive the number for your child’s teacher so you can contact them directly. Teacher emails are also available online at www.discoverpps.org. When you visit www.discoverpps.org, scroll down the page and find the link to your child’s school. Click on the link to your child’s school and click on the staff button on the left side of the website. This will provide you a list of all staff at your child’s teacher. Please only use the email address, as the phone number is for staff member’s desk phone at the school.
How is the District handling student grades?
The 3rd report period in PPS ended March 31, 2020 and the 4th report period begins April 1, 2020. For all grade levels, 3rd report period grading was frozen on 3/13/2020, our last day of instruction. The grading guidelines below will be implemented by all teachers:
- Grades closed on 3/13/2020
- No additional work can be collected or graded after 3/13/2020 that was not already submitted by the student.
- Based on the percentage of all collected work, that is the student’s 3rd report period grade.
- Based on the period of “no collected or graded work,” we will ensure all students have an opportunity for success by adjusting all grades that were lower than 70%, up to 70%. For the 3rd report period, no student will receive a letter grade lower than a “C.”
When will schools reopen?
Governor Wolf announced all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed until the end of the school year as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. As a result the District launched Remote Learning for all students on April 22, 2020.
Why am I not recieving the District's robocalls?
If you are not receiving District robocalls, please submit a Let’s Talk dialogue at www.pghschools.org/LetsTalk or call a member of our Support Team at 412-529-HELP and leave a voice message. Our support team is working remotely Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Please include the following information:
- Parent/Guardian First Name and Last Name
- Student First Name and Last Name
- Student’s School
- Preferred Primary Phone Number
How will students get access to school meals?
In partnership with local community organizations, Grab and Go meal distribution is avaiable at 30 regional sites across the city. The locations, open to all students, were selected based on student participation during the first week of a 10-closure ordered by Governor Tom Wolf to slow the spread of COVID-19. Grab and Go distribution will occur 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, with students receiving multiple meals on Tuesday. Visit http://www.pghschools.org/coronavirus for location information.
What resources are available to families who do not have acees to the internet?
In response to COVID-19, Comcast is offering free access to its Wi-Fi hotspots. A map of hotspots can be found here. 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.
The District also has a partnership with Sprint through the 1 Million Project Foundation to provide devices and free connectivity. Devices and limited and distribution will be prioritized to support high school seniors.
What is a stay-at-home order?
In addition to Allegheny County, nine (9) other counties are under stay-at-home orders. Per Governor Wolf, stay-at-home order means stay home as much as possible. Try to get groceries only once per week instead of daily. While freedom of travel remains, it is important to refrain from non-essential travel. Essential travel includes things like commuting to an essential job, picking up supplies like groceries and medicine, and checking on family and pets in other households. Do not host or attend gatherings.
What about upcoming Advanced Placement exams?
The College Board has shifted AP exams to be administered at home. These exams will be accessible by computer or smart phone. In preparation for the AP exams the College Board is hosting live daily/weekly AP lessons for all students. Please note these live sessions are free. Please use the links below to review the schedule for each course. Also, if you or someone you know has limited access to technology and/or the internet please have them complete the second link below.
AP Schedule for Live Lessons by Course: https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/coronavirus-updates
- Please access the above link to review the schedule
- Click the link for your course and set your reminder on YouTube
If you or someone has limited access to technology or internet please complete the needs assessment survey: https://collegeboard.tfaforms.net/74
Will the IB exams still take place this May?
The International Baccalaureate Organization will be taking the following actions for the 2020 May Examination session:
- The May 2020 examinations as scheduled between 30 April and 22 May for Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme candidates will no longer be held.
- Depending on what they registered for, the student will be awarded a Diploma or a Course Certificate which reflects their standard of work. This is based on student's coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes.
Full details and FAQs will be sent to schools by 27 March 2020 (CET). Initial FAQs are available at https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/news-assets/coronavirus/coronavirus-outbreak-faq-en.pdf.
Will I be able to pick up my child’s medication?
The opportunity to pickup medication from the school nurse was Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17. Medication pick up will not be available until schools reopen.
Will students PPS One Card work during the closure?
Students who currently receive transportation services via their PPS One card will still be able to use their card on Port Authority through March 31, 2020.
Will PPS employees be paid during the closure?
All semimonthly employees and biweekly employees who have regular standard hours will continue to be paid during the closure.
- Semimonthly employees will receive their regular salary and all additional pay that has been setup and paid to date during this school year.
- All biweekly employees will receive the base standard hours of pay.
- All hours and amounts that have been entered to date will be paid on the next available pay date for all employees.
- Paydays will continue to follow the 2019-2020 payroll schedules posted on the website.
Will PPS substitute employees (teachers, counselors, social workers, nurses, paraprofessionals) be paid during the closure?
Only substitute employees who became designated as full-time substitutes (i.e. who have worked forty (40) consecutive work days in the same substitute assignment) prior to March 16, 2020 will continue to be paid during the closure. Day-to-day substitutes will not be paid during the closure.
Will any PPS staff be working during the closure?
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.
Will there still be a Spring Break?
Yes, Spring Break will occur as scheduled April 6 – 13, 2020.
Will students and staff have to make up days lost due to closing?
The decision by Governor Wolf to close all public schools for at least 10 days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our school communities and relieves schools of the requirement of the 180 days of school as well as the ability to provide food to our students during the closure.
How will families learn about their child’s school closure?
Pittsburgh Public Schools will utilize its multiple communication channels to communicate any school closures, including posting information on the District’s Facebook and Twitter pages, posting to the District’s website, notifying the media and alerting families via a robocall. The District will post regular updates to its website at www.pghschools.org/coronavirus.
Is the District in need of volunteers during the closure?
We are very appreciative to the many staff, families and community members that have offered to volunteer during the school closure. This type of support demonstrates the kindness and dedication of Pittsburghers to care for our students and staff. At this time, we cannot accept volunteer support. To help mitigate the spread of the virus, we are limiting the number of individuals that are congregating in one space. We do welcome volunteers throughout the school year. To learn how to become a volunteer when our schools are open, please visit. www.pghschools.org/volunteering.
What is the District doing to ensure students meet graduation requirements?
Due to the coronavirus emergency during the 2019-2020 school year, the Board of Directors approved changes to policy 211 – Graduation Requirement to waive the graduation project and assessment requirements for the graduating class of 2020. Also, if a graduating senior is unable to meet the minimum requirements of 26.5 credits for the 2019-2020 school year due to illness, family illness or related COVID-19 issues, the District will review each case to determine whether the student has completed sufficient course content toward course completion to be eligible for graduation. To view the policy, visit www.pghschools.org/boarddocs.
Programs for Students with Exceptionalities (PSE): Special Education
Is an LEA required to continue to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by a COVID-19 outbreak?
The IDEA, Section 504, and Title II of the ADA do not specifically address a situation in which elementary and secondary schools are closed for an extended period of time (generally more than 10 consecutive days) because of exceptional circumstances, such as an outbreak of a particular disease.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools has closed its schools to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. Educational services are not being provided to the general student population; therefore, PPS is not required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time. Once school resumes, PPS will provide special education and related services for all students with disabilities in accordance with their individualized education program.
What obligation does the district have for conducting IEP meetings during the closure?
The Pittsburgh Public Schools will act in good faith to support the needs of students with disabilities during this unprecedented challenge of school closure. During this time, IEP teams may struggle to convene, as social distancing is necessary and parents and staff, who are IEP team members, may not be available for IEP meetings. It is our plan at PPS to convene IEP meetings upon the reopening of our school buildings. Priority scheduling will be given to those students whose IEPs or pending Evaluation/Reevaluation Reports would have been reviewed during the closure time period. If a parent has an immediate concern regarding the timeline obligations, they are welcome to reach out to the Special Education department via email or the Parent Hotline – 412-529-HELP (4357).
Are there activities or resources that students with disabilities can access during the school closure?
The Pittsburgh Public Schools has created activities and resources that can be used during the school closure. These activities are available in digital form and will be avaialble in hard copy at regional Grab and Go locations across the city during the week of March 23rd. The materials provided are for all students, including students with disabilities. These activities are optional and will not be graded or submitted for any purpose.
What other resources are avaiable to families?
Families can go online or call 2-1-1 to get additional support and special referrals. With one phone number, callers gain free, confidential access to thousands of programs and services that can help improve the quality of their lives. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 2‑1‑1 (or 1-888-553-5778). TTY and language services are available in more than 170 languages and dialects.
The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has partnered with the United Way to offer a 24/7 hotline available at 888-856-2774. Visit www.AlleghenyCounty.us/Coronavirus to sign up for notifications, which includes Allegheny Alerts, a messaging system that will call you or send you a text or email with the latest information. The Health Department is on Facebook (@Allegheny County Health) and Twitter (@Health Allegheny).
What is the Coronavirus?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) virus. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
How do I prevent infection?
The CDC recommends that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Get a yearly influenza vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
What is PPS Doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?
Pittsburgh Public Schools is in regular contact with the Allegheny County Health Department and officials from the city, county, state and other superintendents to assess and respond to new information. Having a seat at the table ensures our voices are heard and included in decisions that affect all of us. We follow the guidelines and best practices from these entities and the Centers for Disease Control when it comes to responding to public health concerns, including COVID-19 and the flu. Below are steps the District has taken to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
- Canceled all international student trips and travel, out-of-state field trips, All-City Arts activities and musicals;
- Reviewed and updated PPS Emergency Response Plan
- Reviewed cleaning and disinfecting guidelines to help prevent the spread of viruses. Examples of this includes additional work by our custodial staff to focus on high touch areas, such as door knobs, countertops, water fountains and hand rails, as well as delivering extra hand sanitizer to school locations.
- Reiterated established expectations for cleaning of bus vehicles and began disinfecting identified buses with a high-pressure cleaning solution.
- Deep cleaned schools where verified reports of possible COVID-19 exposure were identified with the District’s electrostatic machine.
- PPS is sharing regular updates related to coronavirus on the website, in communications, and with news media.
Should I wear a facemask to protect myself from COVID-19?
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
What should I do if I believe I have been exposed to COVID-19?
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
If you think there is a potential risk that PPS students and staff may have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact the Director of Health Services Rae-Ann Green at (412) 529- 3956. Ms. Green will ask a series of questions to asses risk and can activate the District’s Crisis Response team to respond to potential exposures of COVID-19. This process allows the District to initiate the deep cleaning of impacted facilities and notify staff and families of potential exposure while ensuring confidentiality is maintained as expected of healthcare officials and required by HIPPA.
If a student does need to stay home after the closure ends, how can they receive assignments?
Teachers have been asked to prepare supplemental instructional materials for students who need to be out of the classroom in the event of a sudden prolonged absence. Due to issues of equity and access, we will not be providing digital learning opportunities in lieu of in-classroom instruction.
How will PPS handle student absences?
PPS is excusing all health-related student absences during this time. We will honor parental decision to keep your child home from school. Some children and family members may be at higher risk for severe illness because of underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system. We are asking parents to make the best decision for their families. Your child does not need to present symptoms to receive an excused absence. Please let your child’s school know if you will be keeping them home.
In the event of closure, students will receive excused absences.
What should I do if I recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19?
If you have traveled from an affected area, there may be restrictions on your movements for up to 2 weeks. If you develop symptoms during that period (fever, cough, and trouble breathing), seek medical advice. Call the office of your health care provider before you go, and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, do not go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.
Is there a vaccine?
There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.
Are there any concerns with traveling during Spring Break?
If you will be traveling during spring break, please monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel advisories. Currently, travelers to Italy, Iran, China, and South Korea must self-quarantine for 14 days when arriving back in the United States. Updated travel information and current guidelines can be found on the CDC website.
The CDC’s Coronavirus Information for Travelers webpage has the latest information. This is important: There are specific areas around the world and in the U.S. with high numbers of coronavirus cases. If you travel to a place where coronavirus transmission is happening and then you develop symptoms, the PA department of Health for at least two weeks will isolate you so you do not put your family, friends and others at risk.
What conversations should parents have with their children at home about coronavirus?
We know families, staff and students are worried with all of the new about COVID-19. We are committed to keeping all informed and working with you to keep our school communities safe. Materials are available for talking with students in our Resources Section.