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Week in review: Schools told to remain flexible; Pitt students move in; Post-Gazette employees authorize strike

Here were the biggest stories of the past week:

Keep flexible

Schools should remain consistent but flexible in how they educate students when school resumes at several districts later this month. State health officials said a spike in covid-19 cases may require districts to change how they teach students.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health will track covid-19 data and inform schools if there is a serious outbreak that will require adjusting. Guidance based on tracking standard public health metrics for community transmissions will determine if schools should teach in-person or online.

Attack on Levine’s gender identity

A senior legal adviser to President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign intentionally misgendered Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

“This guy is making decisions about your health,” Jenna Ellis, an attorney for Trump 2020, tweeted.

Ellis shared a May 13 PennLive news article about a different incident in which Levine was misgendered — when KDKA-AM radio personality Marty Griffin repeatedly called Levine “sir” on a press call. As one of the few openly transgender public officials in the country, Levine has been the target of persistent transphobia.

University of Pittsburgh students move in

Sporadic groups of students and parents moving across the University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus this week replaced the normal throngs of people gathered on move-in day as few students moved into dorm rooms during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pitt’s plans to allow students to return to campus for the fall semester took months to draw up, and they include a compressed schedule and housing a quarter of incoming students in Oakland-area hotels. Even the lack of chaos was planned — arrival dates and times for students living on campus are staggered to keep crowds to a minimum.

Students moving into on-campus housing must quarantine for seven days before arriving and for seven days after.

Post-Gazette employees authorize strike

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s reporters, photographers, copy editors and artists authorized a strike in response to what union leaders describe as management’s unfair labor practices and negotiating tactics. Members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh approved the measure with an 88-31 vote by secret ballot.

Only four members of the 123-member union did not vote, an official said. Newspaper Guild President Michael Fuoco said he hopes the threat of a strike will bring management back to the negotiating table.

Mammoth Park slides remain closed

The Giant Slide at Mammoth Park in Mt. Pleasant will remain closed for at least two more weeks as Westmoreland County officials await safety reports from two independent investigators. Public Works Director Greg McCloskey reaffirmed Wednesday that officials believe the matching 100-foot metal slides are safe.

Injuries were reported after the newly constructed slides opened in early July. Four of the five injuries attributed to the slides were caused by riders who disregarded safety warnings.

The new racing slides, and a 50-foot slide for smaller children, were part of a two-year $1.1 million renovation project at 400-acre Mammoth Park and replaced a 96-foot slide that had been in use since the 1970s.

Chromebook backlog

There is a national backlog of Chromebook orders because of high demand for them during the coronavirus pandemic.

At least two local school districts, Burrell and Allegheny Valley, and the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit are still waiting on ones they ordered, and they’re not sure if the devices will arrive before school starts. Laptops and other types of computers and related products also are in high demand as many workers and students alike shift to working at home.

Civil War era cannonballs

Civil War era cannonballs were discovered by a construction crew that was turning soil for a new condominium development on 39th Street in Lawrenceville. The Franjo Construction crew discovered the cannonballs July 2, Pittsburgh Public Safety officials said.

The cannonballs were live and the excavator operator who discovered them called the Pittsburgh Police Bomb Squad upon discovering the artifacts.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, mtomasic@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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