Superintendent Press Conference Highlights What A Successful Year We’ve Had

Superintendent Dr. Ham Omelette gushes about the ease in which the PPS community has adapted to online learning.

Pittsburgh City Paper

Superintendent Dr. Ham Omelette gushes about the ease in which the PPS community has adapted to online learning.

During an exclusive press conference on March 29, superintendent Dr. Ham Omelette briefed select media outlets, including The Backword, on the state of Pittsburgh Public Schools. Using information from a vlog on the Emmy-award winning DiceTV channel, he chronicled the daily life of Allderdice students—part of his continued efforts to involve student voice—as “proof of the district’s success in creating an engaging and supportive online learning environment.” 

In his remarks, which he kept brief because “the evidence for how well students have adjusted to the virtual format speaks for itself,” he noted that online school has provided remedies for many of the problems the district has worked for years to solve. 

Prior to remote learning, the district received numerous complaints from families about early start times. By cutting the commute, virtual school has allowed students to sleep later. One student was able to wake up at 7:36 and join the homeroom at 7:37. “Of course, he received a notice for being tardy,” Omelette added. “We want to make sure the students are not missing out on any essential instruction time.”

 Online school has also made multitasking easier, allowing students to increase their productivity, he pointed out. After triple-checking they were on mute, another student was able to watch Netflix while in AP Gov without disrupting the class. “I, too, find this to be a benefit of working remotely,” Omelette said. “I sometimes miss The Bachelor on Monday nights but I’m able to catch up during my Tuesday morning meetings.” 

The district had decided to end the practice of work release for seniors because it felt that students would be better-equipped for earning money by taking classes like business law and personal finance. With online learning, students join class on their phones at work, allowing one anonymous student to make drinks at Starbucks while tuning in to their statistics class. 

Omelette also mentioned receiving complaints about high arrest rates in schools in previous years. “We have been working hard to address this problem and are proud to announce that no students have been arrested in the school building this year,” he said. 

Despite the success of online school, Omelette, along with other PPS administrators and the board of directors, is eager to get students and teachers back in the classroom. “We’ve been having ‘All-In To Reopen Our Schools’ meetings every Tuesday morning and I can assure you the transition back to in-person school will be just as seamless as the transition to virtual learning a year ago,” he said.