What To Know About The Hybrid Learning Pushback



Most students did not end up returning to in-person learning this month.

Many PPS students were expecting to be back in real classes on November 9, but the school board has voted to put it off for a couple more months. A hybrid model was going to be introduced as part of the district’s “All-In to Reopen Our Schools” campaign, where students would’ve been split up by last name into two cohorts, one attending in-person school Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other coming Thursdays and Fridays, with Wednesdays set aside for cleaning.

However, with cases on the rise in Pittsburgh, partially due to the cold and flu season, administrators decided to try bringing all the students back in January, in a meeting on Wednesday, October 28.

Pamela Harbin, a member of the school board, says the main issue that contributed to the decision was the high amount of students who signed up for hybrid learning, as opposed to the option of staying totally online, especially at Allderdice. The building would have been more crowded than CDC guidelines recommend. The board also took into consideration the concerns for teachers’ safety. In fact, before the cancellation of hybrid learning, Allderdice science teacher Melissa Diaz expressed her worries about her safety when interviewed. 

“I am nervous about the possible COVID exposure and the potential to take it home to my family, some of whom are high-risk.” However, she also said that she was looking forward to seeing her students in person and trusted Allderdice students to follow COVID guidelines.

Although most students didn’t return to school on the 9th, the D cohort did attend. This group consists of any high-priority students “whose needs require” in-person learning. For example, ESL learners or those with disabilities who cannot get the instruction and help they need from home went to school. Many teachers were also required to come into school to teach their online classes from the building. This arrangement ended up lasting only a week, as the high number of COVID cases proved too concerning for even the limited amount of people in the building, and all students and teachers are now working from home again.

The PPS Board of Directors has been working to put together a plan for reopening the district’s school buildings. (wglt.org)

The question now is, will students actually go back in January? As with many things in the pandemic, Harbin says that it’s unclear. The choice will be made based on community transmission, as the transmission within PPS is at an acceptable level so far, but the county is experiencing a considerable surge of cases. But, if the district stays at a moderate level, the chance of a return will be higher. 

When asked for his feelings about the delay, Allderdice sophomore Nicholas Efran says, “I personally think it is a step in the right direction for Pittsburgh Public…I don’t think it would have been safe.” Even so, he believes that the district should have been a little better prepared for the amount of students who signed up for hybrid. “It seems to me you have to expect your kids to come back if you offer the option…were they expecting no one to come back? Why offer the option?”

When asked how the time until January will be used,  Harbin says the board will be continuing to work on developing policies, such as a new Student Code of Conduct. They will also be purchasing any new technology or supplies that the schools may need. Despite all that the teachers have had to adjust to in the last several months, she says, she thinks they are mostly doing very well, but she hopes that any who still need to adjust to online school will be able to attend professional development during this time.

So, while students and teachers alike might be disappointed that they won’t be seeing each other in person, the next couple months could give time to work out any remaining issues in the district.