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Pittsburgh Public Schools Board To Discuss Keeping Buildings Closed For Rest Of School Year

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- There are calls to reopen schools and resume in-person classroom instruction.

But some local school districts have been reluctant during the coronavirus pandemic. Pittsburgh Public Schools has delayed reopening until April, and now KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan has learned that may be pushed back even longer.

President Joe Biden wants schools to reopen, especially elementary schools. Dr. Anthony Fauci told the CBS This Morning it can be done safely even if the teachers aren't fully vaccinated.

But the Pittsburgh Public Schools board, which has already delayed reopening the classrooms until April, will now consider keeping buildings closed for the rest of the school year.

"That is something that will have to be discussed and explored," said board president Sylvia Wilson.

Wilson said certain factors — including a lack of teacher vaccines, poor classroom ventilation and student safety — are prompting her to initiate those discussions with the board on Wednesday in a private session.

"We have to look at what we have to face," Wilson said, "what the guidelines say, what the school district is capable of doing and whether or not we can actually come back."

The board voted last month to delay, in part, because of union demands that all teachers be vaccinated with both doses before returning. But Wilson said there are new factors to consider, including a new CDC guideline recommending six feet of separations between students.

"I think that going to be a huge issue because in most of our classrooms, they're not large enough to have that many students six feet apart," Wilson said.

But proponents of reopening expressed alarm even at the consideration of a further delay.

"This district can open up school safely right now, even under the CDC guidelines. So I'm very confused," said James Fogarty of A-Plus Schools.

These are just discussions at this point, and there is no formal motion to keep buildings closed for the rest of the year. But if one is made, there will be public hearings and a lot of pushback from a large segment of the public.

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