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In spite of climbing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the region, McKeesport Area School District officials are hoping to ensure that major spring events — including prom and commencement — will occur this year, if possible.
At the school board meeting, district officials discussed plans for remainder of the year and began looking ahead to fall.
Board President Joseph Lopretto and District Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. said they are keeping an eye on virus cases, and will move forward with plans as possible.
Prom and commencement were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Graduation is scheduled for June 2, and will be held outside in the football stadium. There is currently no rain date. Holtzman encouraged community members to plan accordingly if their is rain in the forecast, because “it’s not going to be feasible to move indoors considering the mitigation strategies.”
“We are excited to try something a little different this year, possibly repositioning the stage in the stadium on the turf and allowing both sides to be able to view their children receiving their diplomas,” said Holtzman.
The board unanimously approved the use of $4,000 to cover the costs of security and chaperones for the 2021 junior and senior prom, which is planned for May 27 at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.
“We are hopeful things will steady and we’ll continue to be able to move forward with the prom,” said Holtzman.
Cases in Allegheny County are on the rise again, though they are still significantly lower than in the winter months. According to MASD’s website, there have been 143 positive cases within the district since the start of the school year.
Looking ahead to what the 2021-2022 school year will look like, school board members said they are committed to providing the best resources for students who will need to continue online learning.
The one-to-one device program currently utilized in the district, which provides access to Dell computers to students, will continue next year, district officials said.
In addition, the district will be hiring four online-only teachers for the upcoming year, two at the elementary level and two at the high school level. This will allow students participating in the virtual program to have synchronous instruction.
Currently, between 75 and 80 percent of the district is attending via in-person instruction. Holtzman is hoping that by the fall, another “couple of hundred students” will return to in-person classes.
Siana Emery is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh’s South Hilltop. She has also written for The Mennonite World Review, Goshen College Communications and Marketing and The Goshen College Record. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published April 01, 2021.