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July 29, 2020 Meeting - Open Forum - Looking ahead at the 2020-2021 School Year

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

PALS Meeting Minutes

June 29, 2020 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom

Scroll down for the latest COVID-19 Resources & More.

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education. We discussed:

Tim Mahoney, Director of Special Education and Pupil Services for Fox Chapel Area School District (FCASD) was looking forward to joining our meeting to provide any updates he could regarding the district's Reopening Plan. Unfortunately, Tim had last minute scheduling conflict and was unable to join us. We will work with Tim to join a special meeting the week of August 12, 2020. It is anticipated that by that time, FCASD will have their reopening plan submitted to the state and accessible to the community. This will allow Tim to answer questions and provide guidance as it relates to Special Education to our community. We will send out an e-mail as soon as the date is confirmed.


The Fox Chapel Area School District sent out the following e-mail earlier this morning regarding an upcoming special board meeting;


The Fox Chapel Area Board of School Directors will hold a remote special Board meeting on Monday, August 3, 2020, at 7 p.m. using a Zoom meeting platform. The meeting is being held for the purpose of taking official action on business that may come before the Board, including approval of the Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan and the revised Resocialization of Sports Plan. Additionally, informational items that will be discussed include the Fox Chapel Area School District Return-to-School Plan and the instructional days/hours for 2020-2021.

As always, the district will make every effort to livestream on the Fox Chapel Area School District YouTube channel Anyone planning to only watch the meeting should do so from the district’s YouTube channel. However, anyone wishing to make a public comment, or who might be experiencing technical difficulties, may also join the meeting using the Zoom link below on an internet-enabled device, or call to listen.

You may access the meeting via any web browser at https://bit.lyFCASBAug3Mtg.

            •When prompted to enter password, enter: 429687

If your computer audio isn’t working or you prefer to join by phone only, you can also call 1-888-475-4499 or 1-877-853-5257 for audio:

•When prompted to enter the Meeting ID enter: 837 0611 2592#

•When prompted to enter Participant ID enter: 429687#

Anyone wishing to make public comments must connect to the meeting via this virtual platform. Public comments will be taken near the beginning and end of the virtual meeting. Click the “raise hand” option to enter the queue for public comments. Additionally, anyone connecting to the meeting via the Zoom remote meeting platform is asked to identify themselves (first and last names) through their screen name.

For help with Zoom, please visit


Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) will hold a Public Hearing this evening. Please see the following statement from the PPS website;


Details of the District’s All In Health and Safety Plan were shared with the Board at the start of its July 22, Legislative Meeting.  The state required plan for reopening must be Board approved prior to submission to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Following the District's presentation, Board Member Kevin Carter introduced a resolution calling on the Board to postpone in-class instruction for the first nine-weeks of school.  Board vote for both the District's plan and Board Resolution were postponed to July 31 at 3:00 PM, to allow for public comment at a Special Public Hearing scheduled for July 29, at 5:00 PM. Comments at the Special Public Hearing are limited to the Health and Safety plan and the resumption to have a start of school with remote instruction due to the COVID Emergency. Comments may be no longer than two minutes. Comments must be submitted and will be read.  The deadline for registering to speak is Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at 5:00 PM. To register to speak call 412-529-3868. Comments on any other matters will not be accepted or read. Members of the public are invited to view the Public Hearing streamed live from the homepage of the website. 


Our conversation continued as we discussed the difficult task all school districts are currently tackling as they juggle an endless list of variables in trying to determine the safest, healthiest, and most meaningful way to education the students in all communities. This task is not an easy one and there will be differing opinions on the best course of action. However, we cannot allow our differences divide us. Although this is a topic we can talk about at length some of the concerns we highlighted were;

- Student Depression / Academics vs. Mental Health

During the last months of the school year, families were forced to make a decision between a student's academic achievements and positive mental health. These decisions of course also played into the family dynamic and the overall mental health of all family members and their relationship to one another. Families have utilized virtual therapists on a daily basis for assistance.

- Teacher Resignation & Retirement

Educators across the country have started to resign and retire rather than a return to in-person education. The questions become how many highly qualified teachers will be left, how many news teachers will be needed to fill the void, and what will the lack of experienced teachers mean for our students.

- Teacher Strike

In recent days there has been conversation of teachers around the nation going on strike over the return to in-person education. The American Federation of Teachers (UFT) announced their support of teacher strikes if necessary.

- Teacher Health & Wellness

It is important not to discount the importance of the health and wellness of our educators and support staff. It is important to listen to their needs as they take on added responsibilities whether through in-person or virtual instruction. Their needs are no different then that of the students and families in their schools. We must continue to offer support and understanding.

This led to the mention of a recent New York Post article citing the NYC Principals' Union's list of imperative questions on school reopening. They are not alone. Teachers, Support Staff, and Administrators across the country are asking the same questions. Read the article and see their twelve page document here.


2014 Fox Chapel Area High School graduate, Dominic Nickels is offering virtual math tutoring for grades Kindergarten to early College/Calculus 1. Dominic holds a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Engineering from Dayton University, is living in the Pittsburgh area, and is available most evening and weekends. Please contact Dominic directly for more information at


We understand the Bender Leadership Academy is offering a virtual experience. This program comes highly recommended by both participants, parents, and educators. The goal of the Bender Leadership Academy is to increase long-term competitive employment for youth with disabilities. The Bender Leadership Academy delivers competency building programs that enable students with disabilities to engage in educational, empowerment and work opportunities, celebrate successes, and set and achieve career journey goals. For more information please visit their website.


Next Meeting: August 26, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.

**NEW Log-in and Password for this and all upcoming meetings will be sent in all upcoming newsletters.

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