Remote and Online Learning FAQ
Last updated April 3, 2020
What is the District's plan to continue student learning should there be an extended closure?
The District is finalizing an “at home” remote learning plan to be implemented if the school closure goes beyond spring break. While it would be ideal to have plans in place today, moving from a brick and mortar classroom setting to “at home” learning takes time for a system as large as PPS.
PPS serves close to 23,000 students PreK-12 and employs more than 4,000 staff. Our plans must consider the instructional “at home” needs for all of our families and staff. This includes plans for students with individual education plans (IEPs), gifted education plans (GIEPs), English Language Learners, and students living in non-traditional settings. We are also outlining how to best serve some of our most vulnerable students who need mental health and nursing supports. Remote online learning is only one option we will be providing to students and families for “at home” instruction. We will prepare printed instructional packets and are exploring mailing packets as well as dropping copies at our grab and go meal distribution locations.
How do I set up Microsoft Teams?
The Curriculum and Instruction team will begin training staff on how to use Microsoft teams beginning the week of March 30. School-based staff required to participate in the virtual training will receive an email from their school administrator this weekend. To set up your home laptop, desktop or mobile device with Microsoft teams, please visit portal.office.com. If you do not see “teams” as an app, click the button called “all apps.”
Principals have also been asked to begin holding virtual faculty meetings and to engage their instructional cabinets. Central Office supervisors will also be coordinating staff meetings. At this time, we are outlining what every staff persons “way of work” will be if schools remain closed and Allegheny County continues under a stay-at-home order. This includes how we maintain day-to-day operations and the essential operations needed to keep PPS running.
How far in advance will the teachers have access to the assignments for “at home” learning?
The first two weeks of training will be loaded no later than April 7th.
Will teachers have access to "practice" classes to navigate before they are expected to be live with students?
Yes. Teachers are receiving training the week of March 30th. Instruction through Microsoft Teams will not start until Thursday, April 16th. Teachers will have time to review the trainings multiple times and create and delete classes in Microsoft Teams.
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.”
The District is currently seeking stakeholder input on two grading guideline options for the 4th quarter. Please share input at www.pghschools.org/gradingguidelinesurvey by Noon Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
How we the District ensure students are ready to graduate?
Online credit recovery courses through Edgenuity will be available to high school seniors Friday, April 3. Credit Recovery will be turned on for all students April 16.
The District is currently waiting for guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education on steps that can be taken to ensure students meet graduation requirements should there be a need for a long-time closure.
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
How will students get access to school meals?
In partnership with local community organizations, Grab and Go meal distribution is available at 32 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.
The PPS Food Service Department of will be closed during spring break – Monday, April 6th through Monday, April 13th. However, the District is will deliver four days of meals, and Parkhurst Dining Services, through the generous support of the United Way, will be sending an additional two meals for distribution to sites on Friday, April 3rd. Our non-PPS sites will continue to distribute food during spring break on Tuesday, April 7th and Friday, April 10th.
What learning opportunities are available for students?
As an institution for learning, we know there is concern about the loss of student learning during this closure. Supplemental grade-level activity packets are available at www.pghschools.org/coronavirus . Additional online materials are available through the District’s CLEVER portal. A helpful video on how to use and login to CLEVER can be found on the District’s VIMEO. Printed packets for English Language Arts and Mathematics are available for students at grab and go locations.
Due to issues of equity and access, Pittsburgh Public Schools cannot provide online learning. The District is required to provide Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all students. Since all District students do not have access to technology, internet in the home, or transportation to a Grab and Go site, the completion of activity packets is optional and will not count towards student grades. This also applies to any extra assignments given by schools and teachers to provide learning opportunities to students between March 16- April 14, 2020. Extra credit is also not allowable.
On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the District launched the Home Technology Survey to understand what resources families need to support at home learning. The survey will close Friday, April 3.
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).