Superintendent's Parent and Family Update
Keeping PPS Families Engaged and Informed
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
A Message from Superintendent Hamlet
Dear PPS Families,

To prepare for the arrival of all students on the first day and to lessen the strain of wearing masks indoors during the hot days of August, we will change the start of the school year for all students to Wednesday, September 8, 2021. The shift of our start date will provide the time necessary for the transportation strategies we have put in place to take hold as we welcome students back for five days a week of in-person instruction. We are also listening to the concerns raised by our staff related to the impact traditionally high temperatures in August have on our facilities now coupled with the use of masks. It is our hope this challenge would be lessened in September, allowing everyone a positive start in the new school year.

The Board will vote on the adjusted school year calendar at a Special Legislative Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, August 18. The revised calendar will additionally change the last day of school for students to June 22. We will share information with the Board on Back-to-School Readiness on Tuesday, August 10th, at 5:30 PM. Families can watch the presentation live on the District’s homepage at The board meeting will also be posted to the District website for the public to view.

To help you prepare your child and family for the 2021-2022 school year, please take a moment to read all of the information below. One big change that we need to bring to your attention is proposed adjustments to all school start and end times to increase our ability to transport students to and from school this year.

As many of you are aware, the national bus driver shortage is impacting our ability to transport over 17,000 City of Pittsburgh children. We have put many strategies in place to address the shortage. More information is below.

We will also be requiring all students, staff and visitors to wear a mask this school year. In addition to 3-feet physical distancing, masking is a mitigation strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure all of our students can attend school 5-days a week. The Board approved our ARP ESSER Health and Safety Plan that outlines the protocols we will have in place.

Please review the important news below and visit for information about the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. We can’t wait to have all students back in school buildings beginning on Wednesday, September 8. 

Yours in education,

Anthony D. Hamlet, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
First Day of School
An updated printable version of the 2021-2022 school year calendar will be uploaded to this week. A 12-month flip calendar will be mailed to all families.
Health and Safety Procedures
The recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance to prioritize the return of students for in-person learning was another positive step forward for students, families and staff. This school year, all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks, self-screen for symptoms using our self-screening tool located at, stay home when unwell and maintain social distancing of three-feet or more when feasible. We know the best place for students to learn is in school, inside a classroom. Our mask-wearing requirement serves as an added layer of protection to ensure all of our schools remain open for instruction 5-days a week for the entire 2021-2022 school year. To review the District’s health and safety plan, visit
#PittsburghForPPS Back-to-School Event
The biggest back-to-school event is BACK! PNC, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins, Comcast, United Way of Southwestern PA, Eat'n Park, WAMO 107.3, PT Services Group are teaming up with Pittsburgh Public Schools to provide the essentials for families to get ready for the 2021-2022 school year. Food, stuffed book bags, cloth masks, hand sanitizers, and hygiene kits are amenities provided all at no-cost to PPS families. Join us on Friday, August 20, 2021 from 11 AM - 3 PM in the North Shore for this drive-through event.
Getting Kids to School
An Update on Transportation
Similar to school districts across the country, Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) must transform its approach to transporting students to limit the impact of a national school bus driver shortage, hitting close to home. This shortage became exacerbated due to the lack of work available during the pandemic while school buses stood still and other jobs were hiring.  This ongoing lack of bus drivers leaves the District short-handed 436 drivers (229 CDL and 207 non-CDL) with a seat gap for approximately 10,996 students.   

Solution Driven Response
Pittsburgh Public Schools Transportation Department continues to take steps to gain efficiencies in transportation services to address the seat gap. So, what is being done?

Increasing Walk Zones
Students are eligible for transportation based on the distance between their home and their assigned school. Transportation eligibility is measured from the nearest point where a private way or private road connects the residence of the student to the nearest point where a public road touches the school grounds. Students in grades K-8 are eligible for transportation if they live more than 1.5 miles from school, and students s in grades 9-12 are eligible for transportation if they live more than 2 miles from school. 

To eliminate the need for 22 yellow buses, the District increased walk zones to align with state and Board policy, moving currently ineligible students from transportation to walkers.  The move impacts nearly 800 students. Families will receive notification from the Transportation Department notifying them if their student will be moved to walker status in early August.  

Moving Additional Students to Port Authority
To date 1, 028 students have been transitioned from yellow buses to Port Authority, joining the nearly 5,000 students currently utilizing Port Authority to get to and from school. The increase use of public transportation through Port Authority will eliminate the need for 38 yellow buses, impacting the following schools”
  • 6-8 grade students at Pittsburgh Obama and Sci-Tech; 
  • Grades 6-12 grades at Pittsburgh Milliones;
  • Sixth graders at Pittsburgh CAPA. Students in grades 7th and 8th currently use Port Authority; and
  • Students attending non-PPS schools including Bishop Canevin High School, Ellis School, Environmental Charter School, Manchester Charter School, the Neighborhood Academy, Propel Charter Schools and Winchester Thurston will move to Port Authority.
Students receiving specialized transportation per their IEP will continue to receive those services.

Changing School Start and End Times to Support Multi-Tiered Scheduling
A recently signed tentative agreement between the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) and PPS supports the District's efforts to seek solutions to address the seat gap through the use of multi-tiered scheduling. Through the use of a three tiered bussing system, the District can increase the number of routes one yellow bus driver can complete before and after school for a maximum of six routes a day for up to 144 students. 

Tier 1:        7:15 AM to 8:05 AM Start
High Schools, 6-12 schools and special schools such as Conroy, Pioneer and Oliver Citywide

Tier 2:        8:25 AM Start
Most neighborhood schools including the Student Achievement Center
Tier 3:        9:25 AM Start
Schools serving students traveling from all areas of the city including Magnet schools, partial magnet/neighborhood schools and schools that serve as regional sites for special education students and English as a Second Language         

Please find below the proposed changes to school start and end times. Families can expect transportation information the week of August 30th. For more information about the District’s efforts to get kids to school and a proposed bell schedule times and tiers, please visit

How can families help?
Expanded walk zones, increased use of Port Authority with the proposed changes to school start and end times will reduce the seat gap by more than half.  The District’s Transportation Department will take the following added steps to address the remaining seat gap, prioritizing yellow bus and van carrier service for the District’s youngest students in grades K-5 and those that receive specialized transportation:
  • Support newly added transportation carriers as they complete onboarding of new drivers;
  • Transition additional middle school students to Port Authority where feasible;
  • Finalize new partnerships with community stakeholders for other transportation channels.
There are also ways families can help:

Release Your Seat
Families eligible for transportation, who are able to transport their student to and from school are asked to notify the District at or so submit Let’s Talk ticket. In addition, Port Authority ConnecTIX tickets will be available to families who need them to transport their student to school. Families are encouraged to contact Let’s Talk at or at 412-529-HELP if they are able to use ConnecTIX for school transportation.  

Become a School Bus Driver
Transportation companies across our region are looking for bus drivers to safely transport Pittsburgh Public Schools students to and from school. All you need is a valid driver’s license, excellent driving skills, and an outstanding driving record. Applicants must pass clearance checks, drug test, and a criminal background check with no DUIs or felonies. Paid CDL Training is provided at most bus companies and some include signing bonuses. We need YOU! So, start your new career today! Contact Pupil Transportation at 412-529-5947 for more information. 
Student Technology
Students will receive their iPad or laptop when they return to school. Students that have not returned their device from last school year can return it to school. Families also have the option of dropping their student’s device and power cord off at the District’s Service Center located on the Southside at 1305 Muriel Street Pittsburgh PA 15203, Monday – Thursday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

When students return to school in September, they will receive updated devices based on their grade level. 

• Pre-K and Kindergarten students will receive iPads.
• Grades 1-4 will receive touchscreen Windows laptops. 
• Grades 5-12 will receive Windows laptops. 
• Pittsburgh CAPA students will receive MacBook computers. 
For more information about reopening schools, please visit: