Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
The Department of Education today reminded school districts that the federal court ruling issued earlier this week is not a blanket end to the protection and mitigation orders that protect people from the deadly virus of COVID-19 and that we must all stay the course to protect ourselves, our families, and communities. The full letter follows:
“You are likely aware that on Monday a federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania issued a decision striking down some of the commonwealth’s COVID-related orders. The ruling is limited to the business closure order and the stay at home orders issued in March, which were later suspended, as well as the 25-person indoor and 250-person outdoor gathering limitations.
“The actions taken by the Wolf Administration were mirrored by governors across the country and saved and continue to save lives. As such, the Wolf Administration has applied for a stay of the order and will appeal this decision. Nevertheless, we understand that you may be wondering how this development might impact your operations in the intervening time until the litigation comes to a resolution.
“The ruling was not a blanket end to the mitigation orders put in place to protect residents of the commonwealth from the deadly COVID-19 virus and we must all stay the course to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Indeed, all other orders of the governor and Secretary of Health remain in effect, including the order on order on face coverings.
“School entities remain responsible for enforcing the face covering order and requiring social distancing at school and at all school events, including school sporting events. The administration encourages schools to voluntarily enforce the 25- person indoor and 250-person outdoor gathering limitation while all of us wait for the court to rule on the stay request.
“We trust that school leaders understand the critical importance of maintaining the health and safety of our school communities, and further trust that they will continue to maintain strong social distancing and face covering policies necessary to contain and mitigate this virus.”
The virus that causes COVID-19 is easily transmitted, especially in group settings, and it is essential that the spread of the virus be slowed to safeguard public health and safety.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is committed to offering guidance and resources to support and help protect school communities during this pandemic. Access additional resources for school communities during COVID-19.
Source: PA GOV
Steelers captain Maurkice Pouncey announces he will add a new name on the back of his helmet, breaking from the team's decision to wear the name of police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr. on helmets for the 2020 season.
Maurkice Pouncey’s statement:
“I want to personally clarify what transpired this past Monday night in regard to having Antwon Rose’s name on the back of my helmet.
I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy. I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.
My work with police, both in Pittsburgh and back home in Florida, is well documented. I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with police departments, but I also want to make sure they understand I inadvertently supported a cause of which I did not fully comprehend the entire background of the case. I take responsibility for not doing more investigating into something that is sensitive to the community and his family, but is a lesson learned as it relates to political issues that occur every day in our society.
Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet. Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. Systemic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop.
My focus will continue to be on helping the police in our communities, and I will support making any necessary changes to help those efforts. #### (end of statement)
Rose, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh police in 2018 after the car he was riding in with other teenagers matched the description of one involved in a drive-by shooting.
Officer Michael Rosfeld ran after Rose, one of two passengers who fled the car, and shot him three times in his back, face and elbow. Rosfeld, who had been on the force for just three weeks, was charged with criminal homicide but was acquitted of all charges. During the trial, Rosfeld said he thought he saw one of the two teenagers point a gun at him, but he didn't know which one.
The shooting was captured on video and sparked some protests in the region. Rose's name has continued to be a rallying cry used by protesters in demonstrations.
The family reached a $2 million settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the borough of East Pittsburgh and Rosfeld in 2019.
Statement from Team President Art Rooney II:
As an organization, we respect the decisions of each player, coach and staff member relating to how to express themselves on social justice topics. We will continue to support our social initiatives to fight against social injustice and systemic racism not only in our area, but around the country.
Along the way, we understand that individually we may say or do things that are not universally accepted. There will be uncomfortable conversations. But we will strive to be a force for unity in our efforts to support a more just society.
With our support, our players have and will support our communities to address these issues with tangible actions. Our players have done an amazing job in helping create social justice platforms that we have already begun participating in this year. But we know there is still work to be done. This season our primary focuses in terms of social justice funds and activities will be voter registration and awareness, community and police forums, and education and community investment.
I am proud of the way our players have responded to the need for greater efforts to bring awareness and changes to combat racism and social injustice. I know they will continue to be leaders in our communities and their hometowns.
This year the NFL is allowing players to wear helmet decals to honor victims of systemic racism. Players could select the name of an individual to wear on their helmet and the Steelers players and coaches united as one to wear a single name on the back of their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season – Antwon Rose Jr.
Antwon Rose II was 17 when he was shot and killed by a police officer two years ago.
“We don’t want him to be forgotten,” the Steelers tweeted. “For the 2020 season, we unite as one and will wear a single name on the back of our helmets – Antwon Rose Jr.”
Cameron Heyward knows that there is power in numbers, that people working together for one cause can make a difference, even if that means saving just one life.
"When you think about Antwon Rose's story, we don't want to ever let his legacy go away," said Heyward, one of the Steelers team captains and a voice that has been heard in the team's fight against social injustice. "That kid had a bright future and he was taken away too early. We see all of these things happening across our country now. This hit home.
Read more at Steelers.com
Cal U mourns the loss of Jamain Stephens-Statement:
California University of Pennsylvania is saddened to learn of the death of Jamain Stephens, a business administration major and a senior on the football team. Cal U mourns the loss and extends its condolences to his family and friends.
"Jamain was such a wonderful student with a smile on his face every time you saw him," said Athletic Director Dr. Karen Hjerpe. "His personality was contagious and he made such a positive impact on everyone he met."
Members of the Counseling Center are available to provide support to Cal U students. Please contact the Student Health Center at (724) 938-4232 and the center will work with counselors to schedule sessions.
Stephens appeared in 32 games for the football team at Cal U from 2017-19.
Central Catholic High School Statement:
It is with deep sorrow that Central Catholic informs you of the death on Sept. 8, 2020, of Jamain Stephens, ’17.
Known more commonly by his nickname, “Juice,” Jamain was a defensive lineman for the Vikings, winning two WPIAL championships and a state championship in 2015. Jamain went on to continue his football career at California University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Business Administration.
Jamain was an avid Central Catholic supporter, and could often be found cheering on the Vikings and sending videos and messages of support and encouragement to his younger Viking brothers.
School counselors are available for students in-person and virtually.
Funeral arrangements have not been made at this time. We will update this post with further information once arrangements have been made.
Eternal rest grant unto him and let perpetual light shine upon him. Through the mercy of God, may Jamain rest in peace.
The Art Commission has announced a Special Hearing and public comment period regarding the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park.
The Special Hearing will be on Thursday, September 17 at 5:30 p.m. This Hearing will include a presentation of the history and context of the statue and public testimony time. The link to join the meeting will be posted on the Virtual Art Commission page the day before the meeting. The Hearing will also be live streamed on the Pittsburgh City Planning YouTube channel.
Testimony may be given by the public in one of three ways: by a verbal statement during the Hearing, through Engage PGH, or in a written statement. Each person will have one statement and preference of outcome (No Action, Remove, Replace, or Alter) counted in the official tally. If you have submitted comments in previous Art Commission meetings, by written correspondence, or on Engage PGH, that testimony is in the record already.
To provide testimony during the Special Hearing, participants in the Zoom meeting will use the raise hand function to request to speak. Public testimony will be limited to three minutes per speaker. If you have already given a public statement, please prioritize giving time to those who have not yet spoken. If you do not plan to provide testimony, please tune into the YouTube live stream. to allow those who want to speak the opportunity to do so.
The City has also set up an opportunity for input on Engage PGH, the City’s online engagement platform, to encourage residents to comment on the Columbus statue to the Art Commission.. Participants will choose one of four options for the statue: no action, remove, replace, or alter. There is also the opportunity to provide written comment through this platform. This page will remain active through 12 p.m. on Tuesday, September 22 for consideration at the Special Hearing and the September Art Commission meeting.
Written correspondence will be accepted by email to email@example.com by 12 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16 or by mail to attn: Art Commission Special Hearing, 200 Ross St., 4th floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 by September 15 to be incorporated into the Special Hearing correspondence.
A decision will not be made during the Special Hearing. The Art Commission will review any additional correspondence before the regularly scheduled Art Commission meeting on Wednesday, September 23 at 2:00 p.m. and make a decision at that time.
For More Information:
Public Art & Civic Design Manager Sarah.Minnaert@pittsburghpa.gov
Director of City PlanningAndrew.Dash@pittsburghpa.gov
Given my more than 50 years of experience in higher education, it seemed highly unreasonable for college administrators to expect their students  to resume residential life;  enroll in a mix of in-person and virtual classes; and  refrain from activities that would create spikes in Coronavirus infections. An abundance of evidence suggested that succeeding in doing so was as improbable as winning the daily state lottery, that much sooner than later schools would be forced to end in-person classes and/or close residence halls.
College students represent the “best and brightest” among us as evidenced by standardized test scores, high school grades, and other measures of academic achievement. However, parents as well as college administrators know how “young and dumb” college students can be as evidenced by Brigham Young students recently using the “young and dumb” phrase to describe their defiance of their campus’ Coronavirus guidelines.
Across the nation, the “best and brightest” have demonstrated just how “young and dumb” they can be with the results being alarming rises in Coronaviruses cases. In just a few days after opening, for example, Towson State University closed its residence halls. At the University of Pittsburgh, Dean Kenyon Bonner declared several students persona non grata as well as suspended 8 Greek life organizations for inappropriate behaviors. College students “gone wild” --drinking heavily and ignoring Coronavirus safety guidelines-- contributed to infection spikes on campuses such as the universities of Alabama, Baylor, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Notre Dame, SUNY Albany, and CAL POLY. As of September 1, 2020, the University of Alabama had 1,201 cases, followed by North Carolina at Chapel Hill with 1,025.
There are multiple college student characteristics that presaged the fact that many college students would not adhere to Coronavirus safety guidelines, that they would in fact engage in risky behaviors because they had done so prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. For example, college administrators know that “The beginning of the school year can be one of the most dangerous times for female college students. It marks the start of the "red zone" – from the first day on campus until Thanksgiving break – when the risk of sexual assault is said to be highest. More than 50% of college sexual assaults take place between August and November, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, which advocates nationally against sexual violence…” (See Alia E. Dastagir, August 26, 2019, USA Today).
College administrators also know that large, late-night gatherings of college students engaged in heavy drinking and raucous behavior are nothing new. More than a decade ago when I became a Dean of Student Affairs, I scheduled a late Thursday afternoon meeting with student leaders. A student leader came to me and said, “No one is going to be there. Everyone starts drinking Thursday afternoon and parties continue through Saturday night.”
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, college officials knew that their “bright young adults” arrived on campus with a vast array of problems for which they needed considerable psychological counselling. A July 11, 2020 American Psychological Association report indicated, “Demand for mental health services at college counseling centers in the United States has been on the rise for years. In 2019, nearly 90% of counseling center directors reported an increase in students seeking services... data from more than 200,000 college students at 163 institutions show there’s been a steady uptick in threats to self—including suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and non-suicidal self-injury—as well as depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and traumatic experiences…”
Along with the Coronavirus and systemic White racism pandemics, there has been a long-term “silent pandemic” related to young people and sexually transmitted diseases. As Jeannie Kenkare wrote on September 26, 2017, “According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 50 percent of the 20 million new STDs diagnosed each year are among young people between the ages of 15–24 years. A large percentage of these cases occur among college students, who often underestimate the risks of having unprotected sex…” On the contrary, “hookups,” i.e., casual “meaningless” sex is often normative.
To their credit, college administrators promulgated an array of very specific student and faculty guidelines per the reopening of their campuses. It was indeed a very high if not unreasonable expectation, however, that students would abide by the guidelines. Why, for example, would campus administrators expect students to return to campus after, for months, being under the close supervision of parents/guardians; having been controlled by local and state guidelines per things such as social distancing and wearing masks; and with bars and restaurants having been closed, that significant numbers of their students would not exercise restraint when they returned to campus? It was no more reasonable than expecting college students not to riot and destroy property after a major sports victory without having implemented very strict controls.
In short, given who the vast majority of students happen to be on historically White campuses where most highly privileged college students are enrolled, it was truly a longshot gamble to reopen residence halls and schedule a significant number of in-person classes. Those higher education administrators who believe otherwise should step forward and explain themselves. Meanwhile, as they shutter residence halls and switch to virtual classes, in addition to room and board restitutions, they should reimburse all payments related to the qualities of education they assert are derived from residential college experiences, e.g., face-to-face interactions with diverse students; living-learning experiences; problem solving in small groups; face-to-face dialogue with instructors; many of the activities associated with student activity fees; meals in dining halls; etc.
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
September 2, 2020
August 26, 2020 – Today the Board of School Directors for the Pittsburgh Public Schools voted to reappoint Dr. Anthony Hamlet as Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2025. The Superintendent’s current contract expires June 30, 2021.
Appointed May 18, 2016 with an initial salary of $210,000, Superintendent Hamlet’s current salary after meeting objective goals for the 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years is $229,372. The Superintendent’s final contract and new salary is not yet finalized and will be submitted to the Board for review and approval upon recommendation of the District’s Solicitor.
The Superintendent will hold an in-person press conference with Board Members and his Leadership team on Tuesday, September 1, in celebration of the start of the school year. Please find below statements read this evening by Superintendent Hamlet and Board President Sylvia Wilson, related to this evening’s Board vote.
In Other Business – Board Votes to Move Forward With Fall Sports
Following significant input from students, staff and families, the Board voted to let fall sports proceed for the 2020-2021 school year. Team conditioning will continue while the District finalizes the schedule for sport physicals and “ImPact” testing. The official start date for fall practices will be announced once the schedule for physical is finalized. An All-In webinar focused on ensuring the safe return of athletics will take place tomorrow at 6 PM and can be viewed on the District’s website and Facebook page.
Statement from Superintendent Anthony Hamlet
I want to thank the Board for this vote of confidence. And while the misdirected self-interest of a few attempted to take away from the progress we have made together, we are now able to move forward squarely focused on improving outcomes for our students. With only 35 Council of Great City Schools recommendations left to complete and the groundwork that has been laid with the initiatives of our Expect Great Things strategic plan, we have laid a strong foundation for the next five years.
One thing for sure is we are living in truly uncertain times, but what is not uncertain is our responsibility to ensure our students are prepared to be successful and competitive in the 21st Century global economy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our students have proven themselves resilient, intelligent and considerate of their fellow man – putting them far ahead of previous generations. It is incumbent on us to ensure we develop these assets of our students.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
I want to say to those who have shared their concerns regarding the achievement of black and brown students in our district, that I hear you. Yes, we have inevitably lost some of the ground we had made with our students due to the closure of schools this past spring. This will make for a tough road ahead. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast - go alone. If you want to go far - go together. I am committed to bridging all divides as I know that each of you play a valuable role in the success of our efforts to improve student outcomes.
We will not lose sight of our charge to work against racist ideas and policies that prevent our students from experiencing a bias-free education. I look forward to working closely with Kathi Elliott and Gwen’s Girls to continue our work to reduce the disproportionate rate of arrests affecting black children. We also will continue our intentional efforts to eliminate racial disparities in the achievement of African American students, as outlined in our On Track to Equity Plan – our most extensive and comprehensive equity plan to date.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, we are committed to the work we have begun through Imagine PPS; our strategic plan for the future. Now more than ever, we must make the changes to our system necessary to get the results we want for our students. I take this charge as Superintendent as my number one priority. I know that taking steps to align instruction to standards, increase progress monitoring, elevate data reporting, invest in new curriculum and improve professional learning for all staff are not the kinds of actions that grab headlines, but without these steps, Pittsburgh Public Schools would not be primed for the road ahead.
Imagine PPS builds on the work we have begun and puts into super drive our efforts to empower students with the knowledge and life skills they need to thrive in our global economy. Through Imagine PPS, we continue our work to design an educational delivery model that aligns to the values of our city and positions us to reach our goals for students.
Right now though, my immediate first course of action is ensuring that we are prepared for the successful start of school on Monday. Through a collaborative effort with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, we have been able to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to support full time online instruction. I remain committed to this spirit of collaboration as we continue our efforts to ensure Pittsburgh Public Schools remains fiscally sound, academically strong and a first choice for students, families, teachers and other staff in Pittsburgh. I want to thank all of our school leaders, teachers and school staff for their flexibility and commitment to putting students first. I also must thank the members of my Executive Cabinet, central office, operations and IT staff for their commitment to children and families of Pittsburgh.
When I arrived at Pittsburgh Public Schools, to take on my first superintendence, I left Palm Beach County intent on making Pittsburgh my home. I understood the challenge ahead and the time it would take to truly transform the District for all students. I now have a heart for this city, its residents and most importantly its children. And today we now have the stability we need to ensure all students receive the high-quality education they deserve and that all graduate with a plan for their future and beyond.
Statement from Board President Sylvia Wilson
I would like to take a moment to warmly thank all those who took time out of their days to submit their concerns, gratitude, hopes, and support during the last two days of Public Hearing comments. We sincerely hope that you all understand that your positions were not only heard but also profoundly considered.
Welcome to 2020! A kickoff to a new school year unlike any other. The coronavirus pandemic has taken us all on a ride to test and challenge our confidence, our resiliency, our integrity and most importantly, tested our commitment to the thousands of children in our care. And as we think about the future of our district, let’s be sure to keep the children as our top priority.
My record speaks for itself, as I have proven to be a dedicated servant to Pittsburgh Public Schools for over forty years as a teacher, parent, grandparent, volunteer and elected official. This experience has helped guide me to deeply consider all factors when making decisions…and to keep this precedence in mind when voting. As a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh for my Masters…the recent attacks to my integrity as Board President have been tough to absorb… but those attacks have driven me to be more determined than ever to act and respond with a razor like focus while continuing to move forward. And Moving Forward is exactly what we MUST do in order to protect all of the progress that has been made in the past four years.
Regarding the resolution to confirm Dr. Hamlet’s contract …During my career as a teacher, I was always evaluated every year on my performance.
When I joined this board years ago, it was an eye opener to learn that no such formal evaluative process was done for previous superintendents. A sub-group of board members worked together with Dr. Lane and an outside consultant at that time to develop an evaluative instrument.
Additionally, after the evaluation process was created, the state mandated a format for school boards to use to evaluate all superintendents.
Since then, the tool that we use has been updated with the assistance of the Council of Great City Schools, of which PPS is a member. It is the responsibility of this board to use that instrument to evaluate the progress made by the superintendent with very specific measurable goals. Each board member rates the superintendent on these goals based on actual data.
The process to determine the renewal of Dr. Hamlet’s contract is based on the details outlined in his contract. It was determined that this board was NOT to use subjective criteria, but to use objective criteria. Each board member is responsible to rate the superintendent in what I would hope to be an honest objective manner.
So, after assuring that there is a specific process for rating the superintendent, along with my years of experience, I resent being pictured as someone who makes decisions based on a nice personality, nice suits, nice cologne. This type of rhetoric is not helpful to the process and is insulting to my intelligence and I will also add, sexist.
My record is not the only one that’s been on the chopping block lately. Dr. Hamlet’s integrity has been under attack as well. In recent months, not only have we been at war with a pandemic, we have been faced with a media blitz of negative and mixed information – much of which was created to cast dispersions on a board that for the first time acted against traditional and historic protocols by involving the public in the process of selecting the next superintendent. There were those who fueled the mixed and misguided messages to express their dismay – taking it out of the hands of the very people who were elected to do this job.
As a black woman…as a black educator…Black Lives Always Matter and I too am concerned about the levels of achievement of black students. Over the past four years progress has been made in the levels of black student achievement. What is happening across this state and our country mirror what is happening in Pittsburgh. The levels of black student achievement were low before Dr. Hamlet arrived.
Over the last four years’ progress is being made, and the pandemic is a set-back for our students of color.
Change and evolution takes time. Dr. Hamlet did not bring his magic wand to accomplish this – in fact – one might remember that the teachers are in the classrooms.
Changes in how teachers deliver instruction takes time as well. For too long teachers were to do prescriptive teaching which took away what was once the highlight of Pittsburgh Public Schools. The pedagogy of teaching – being able to diversify to meet the needs of all the students.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but there were no outcries when a previous superintendents destroyed achievement goals of students of color during their tenures.
In working with the board Dr. Hamlet has made many critical accomplishments to date. Among these are:
1. A nurse on every campus.
2. Additional social workers and counselors.
3. The Career and Technical Programs have been expanded to include more students and to provide more opportunities for career options.
4. There has been a reallocation of resources to schools with the most needs.
5. Graduation rates have increased.
6. Attention is given to average class sizes.
7. Student voice is an important addition.
8. Community Schools have been expanded.
9. Out of School Time continued to develop and relationships with community organizations/partners grow in assisting with student needs.
10. Working on better relationships overall that hadn’t existed.
In closing, many have asked why now as opposed to waiting. We decided as a board to make a decision now due to the very reasons that many asked us to wait. We need to concentrate on the education of our children. We needed to get the district back on track post COVID-19 with haste. The district is making every effort to move forward in a difficult time that was not created by us. We are not alone in these struggles. We are in touch with other districts similar in size and larger and compare notes – we learn from each other. We want to remove distractions that prevent us from focusing on educating ALL of the children.
Again – why wait? We have several other considerations to resolve that impacts educating our children that must be resolved such as collective bargaining agreements that have expired, others that will expire soon and our financial future is worrisome. We need to maintain stability at this time so that the critical work can be accomplished. Thank you for this time, my vote is YES to retain Dr. Hamlet’s contract.
PPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet reappointed until June 2025.
The PIAA Board of Directors voted this afternoon to permit fall sports to begin on Monday, August 24th , based on local school decisions. The Board agrees the decision to compete in athletics should be made locally allowing for each school entity to decide whether to proceed and which sports to sponsor. As the health and safety of students is paramount in moving forward with athletics, the Board believes that through each member schools’ adherence to their developed school health and safety plans and the PIAA Return to Competition guidelines sports can continue. The PIAA Board of Directors has heard the thousands of voices of student-athletes, parents, coaches, officials as well as community leaders that have contacted us. We remind those individuals who have strongly advocated for athletics that they must keep strict adherence to school health and safety plans. All individuals involved in interscholastic athletic communities have a role in the health and wellness of all participants. PIAA is committed to providing a season for all sports and all student-athletes in the upcoming school year and will continue to remain flexible. The PIAA Board of Directors also voted that based on local school decisions, the PIAA will monitor school participation in fall sports and may pursue alternate solutions, if needed. Updated Start Dates for Fall 2020: In compliance with Article XVI: Season and Out-of-Season Rules and Regulations
*Football must sponsor heat acclimatization for 5 consecutive days if starting prior to Friday, September 4. Following heat acclimatization, 5 days of practice must be completed before a Scrimmage. Based on the practice schedule in completed 5 practices, a Scrimmage could occur as early as 3-Sep. 5 additional days of practice must occur prior to the first Contest. A Contest cannot take place prior to 11-Sep. If starting on or after September 4, sponsoring heat acclimatization is a local school decision to be dictated by weather conditions. Schools must have 15 days of practice prior to their first contest.
Dr. Robert A. Lombardi Executive Director. PIAA.
The Allegheny County Health Department and Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) issued the following statement on meeting county guidelines for outdoor gatherings:
The Allegheny County Health Department’s limit on outdoor gatherings of 50 remains in place and applies to youth and K-12 sports-related activities. The purpose of the measure is intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. That is particularly true for groups of youth who can be asymptomatic while having the virus, not realizing that they are spreading it.
The guidance set forth by the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. (PIAA) includes extensive protocols that were incorporated into school Health & Safety Plans reviewed and approved by the state. These measures are outlined in the PIAA’s Return to Competition Considerations: http://www.piaa.org/assets/web/documents/Return_to_Competition.pdf
Specifically, the plans provide for the following:
· Spectators are prohibited from attending in-person K-12 sports-related activities.
· Personal health assessments are expected of each participant on the day of any game.
· Physical distancing of 6’ is required at all times when not actively engaged in competition.
· Coaches and staff should be masked at all times unless they meet one of the exceptions in the state’s universal face coverings order.
· Participants may not share uniforms, towels, apparel or equipment, and are expected to bring their own water bottle or rehydration beverages.
Based on these considerations and plans, each team is considered a pod. On a sideline, team members as well as coaches and staff, are physically distanced and following the order for universal face coverings. They are spread out and are not exceeding the 50-person gathering limit. On the opposite side of the field, the same is occurring in another pod. While playing the game, there is a third pod established with those players engaged in competition. All activity is occurring with mitigation measures in place for athletes, and established policies to address cases and outbreaks from games, should they occur.
The Health Department, in consultation with the WPIAL, recommends that these further guidelines be incorporated by participating schools into their plans. The considerations outlined by the PIAA, along with these guidelines, are all aimed at limiting groups that would be in close contact with one another for an extended period of time while outdoors. When met, these plans can provide a safe environment for interscholastic athletic events to occur in Allegheny County while simultaneously complying with the Health Department’s gathering restrictions.
· Events must be hosted at a facility where regulation can occur.
· An administrator and/or designee must be present to monitor gatherings and ensure compliance.
· Teams and/or pods must not exceed the gathering size of 50 people in a close proximity to each other (such as an individual sideline, on the competition area during a contest, or in a section of the bleachers).
· While on the sidelines and not engaged in competition, coaches, athletes and staff should have a face covering and keep 6’ of distance between each other.
· Athletes and coaches should comply with their school’s Health and Safety Plans with regard to health screenings prior to practice and competition.
· Events should be limited to the time necessary for appropriate warm-up and competition. Schools should avoid arriving at a facility well in advance of the starting time and should leave as soon as possible after the completion of the competition. There shall be no congregating in groups after the event.
· The total facility capacity may not exceed the state mandate of 250 individuals.
Mayor William Peduto released the following statement regarding the responses of Pittsburgh Police to ongoing protests, and changes he is implementing today:
“When I raised my hand and took the oath of office in 2014 my guiding principle was to reform and change Pittsburgh government across all departments and offices, including the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. The overarching goal was to provide safe, inclusive and equal opportunities for every Pittsburgher regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or immigration status, which is key to protecting the diversity that makes our city so special.
I have repeatedly watched interactions between police and protesters that escalated to uses of less-lethal weapons, arrest methods and other actions that I do not support, and which run counter to our common principles. This is not the reform I wanted, and that I continue to believe in today.
As a result I am immediately making the following changes.
We will be assigning a new Incident Commander to oversee protests, and additionally there will be new seats at command posts for Civil Affairs and Public Safety Community Engagement staff who will make sure that responses to protest activity are not just tactical in nature, but balanced with the essential goals of improving police-community relations and protecting 1st Amendment rights.
We will be assigning a new oversight and command structure for the Police Special Response Teams (SRTs); these units trained in crowd-control methods will not be used as the primary units to respond to incidents and protests, and only dispatched during narrowly-defined situations when absolutely necessary to protect the public health. The use of SRT units at these events will be subject to clear, written guidelines that city officials are working on now, and will be made public once finalized.
These guidelines will formalize that jump-out arrests of protesters by non-uniformed police in unmarked vehicles — which I ordered to be halted on Monday — are not permitted. In a related move, all police units will be barred from wearing military-style camouflaged uniforms at such events as well.
Police Chief Scott Schubert and I are reinforcing to all officers the need to protect media covering these events. I fully support the unabridged 1st Amendment rights of the press, and I want them to freely monitor activity at protests on behalf of the public. Their presence and coverage are the backbone of transparency, accountability and democracy, and I apologize if that was hindered in any way on Wednesday.
Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich, Chief Schubert and I are working together in coming weeks to expand the role of the Pittsburgh Police Community Engagement office to expand their oversight and decision making of the Civil Affairs Unit, police recruitment and other proactive programs the Bureau operates that are critical to reestablishing trust, confidence and positive relationships between police and all they protect and serve.
We will be announcing a new position to head this office and report directly to Chief Schubert.”
Source: City of Pittsburgh
Mayor William Peduto, City of Pittsburgh
As calls for racial justice echo across the country, the University of Pittsburgh has developed a new course to allow students to gain an understanding of the county’s long struggle with anti-Black racism.
The course, “Anti-Black Racism: History, Ideology, and Resistance,” will be offered as a required, asynchronous, one-credit offering for first-year students on the Pittsburgh campus starting this fall. Students at the regional campuses, as well as any other interested students, may also register.
“The course is designed to inform us all about Black history and culture, about the multiple forms of anti-Black racism, and about how we can be anti-racist,” said Ann E. Cudd, provost and senior vice chancellor. “It is a deposit on our commitment to transform our institution and our society, beginning with education and focusing on our future through the special class of 2024.”
Leveraging the world-renowned expertise of Pitt faculty and activists in the Pittsburgh area, the course will introduce students to the long tradition of scholarly activism, specifically on the Black experience and Black cultural expression. It will also analyze the development, spread and forms of anti-Black racism in the United States and around the world.
“A talented committee of faculty experts came together from across the University to create this innovative course in response to the persistent challenges around anti-Black racism that drive social divisions and limit opportunities and equity for people of African descent,” said Covington-Ward. “We wanted to make sure that the course provided some historical context, while also looking at ideologies of race and contemporary struggles against anti-Black racism locally in Pittsburgh, nationally and globally as well. We also wanted to focus on the humanity of Black people in creating a course that emanates from their own perspectives, experiences and agency.”
Topics will be presented by different scholars each week, including faculty from the Departments of Sociology, History, Africana Studies and criminal justice in the Dietrich School, as well as the Department of Epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health and the School of Computing and Information.
The course will be centered around three key areas: the roots, ideology and resistance to anti-Black racism. The semester will begin with an exploration of the beginnings of anti-Black racism tying it to African history, the history of slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Then, students will discuss the ideology of anti-Black racism and how it connects with the idea of racial hierarchies. The semester will also highlight the theme of resistance and look at strategies that Black activists and their allies have utilized to create a more just and equitable society.
To explore these themes, class discussions will delve into topics such as pre-colonial African history; race, policing and mass incarceration; health disparities; racial capitalism; formal schooling and anti-Blackness; and how to be anti-racist.
Most weeks will have at least one piece of required reading, which will be available through Canvas, along with a list of suggested texts and videos. Students will also learn about future Pitt courses they can take to further their study.
“We hope that this course is a first step in helping students to recognize and challenge anti-Black policies and practices when they encounter them, and to develop strategies to be anti-racist in their everyday lives,” said Covington-Ward.
Aside from the required readings, students will be asked to complete two brief questions after each lecture to check for comprehension. During week seven, in lieu of class, students will be asked to attend at least one synchronous activity during the Black Study Intensive from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, a week in which the Center of African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) will hold virtual performances and creative sessions open to any discipline and the general public.
The course will be graded on a “Satisfactory/Non-Credit” basis.
Source: University of Pittsburgh
Yolanda Covington-Ward, chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Pitt.