Young students wearing masks entered the doors and were greeted by school staff, including Principal Nathan Berkowicz.
“This was very, very exciting today,” Berkowicz said. “I didn’t sleep a wink last night. This has been a year in the making since the students have last been in the building.”
Inside the school, stickers were on floors to remind students to keep 6 feet of distance, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says 3 feet will suffice.
Teachers sat in classrooms behind their plastic shields near rearranged student desks.
It may not be perfect, but Berkowicz said in-person learning is the focus here.
“It’s very difficult in a remote environment — you know, students holding devices and keeping their attention span — so at that age, it’s real important to get them in front of their teachers,” Berkowicz said.
When you don’t get students in front of teachers, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said the educating starts to become undone, which is why expanded summer learning and Saturday courses are being explored for potentially 6,000 students.
“That’s something we’re planning for next year, and, so, traditionally, being in the situation we are with the learning loss, we’ve already had the summer slide, now what I call the COVID slide coupled with the summer slide, we know some kids will be behind,” Hamlet said.
To bring the students up to speed for later, day one for in-person is the first step.
“I was always confident we would be here at some point,” Hamlet said.