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Pittsburgh-Area Parents Wrestling With Decision To Keep Kids Home From School

ALLEGHENY CO., PA (KDKA) -- The topic of returning to school is heating up in some districts.

"You want your child to be successful. But it's been a struggle, especially with two parents that are working," said Jeanine Bedner, who's son is a Bethel Park freshman.

The plan is for the Bethel Park School District to vote on a return-to-school plan on Tuesday night. The hybrid model would put students in the classroom two days a week starting on Monday.

"I'm all for it. I really think for their development, being out of school is not the best situation for them," Bedner said.

School administrators told KDKA that if infection rates stay low in Allegheny County, the goal is to have students back in the classroom five days a week in November.

It's a different story for parents in the North Allegheny School District.

"You have a choice between an unsafe environment or losing in-person instruction altogether, which doesn't really feel like a choice," said Natalie Metropulos, who has three children in the district.

Metropulos started a petition against NA returning to in-person instruction five days a week. She told KDKA that based on information from the district given to parents, students would not be properly spaced out in the building according to CDC guidelines.

"It's not just about the kids. It's about the people who live in our community and the impact an increase spread could have on local businesses," Metropulos said.

Metropulos said if the board approves this change, it's all or nothing. The hybrid option is no longer available to students. She wants the district to resurvey parents.

"They really need this social interaction, and I think going into the building two days a week is keeping them more engaged in learning," Metropulos said.

Meanwhile, other parents are upset that North Allegheny is only offering in-person instruction for five days a week to K through eighth-grade students.

"I'm concerned as to why ninth through 12th grade is being left out of the vote. This teen population is one that's at a higher risk for suicide. The CDC director even said that teens are at a greater risk of suicide and mental health issues than of contracting COVID and that being in school, in-person, helps these kids. So why isn't NA offering the opportunity for these students to return to school five days?" said Joni Sturgill.

School administrators told KDKA that they are not commenting on specifics ahead of Monday's meeting but said the decision was based on building capacity and the number of students already enrolled in the hybrid program at the high school level.

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