Updates for Reopening
Dear Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade Families,
We just wanted to send you a reminder that tomorrow, Friday, March 19 is an asynchronous learning day. Teachers will not be available for live, online lessons as they will be participating in training to prepare them to deliver hybrid instruction. Teachers will provide direction and asynchronous content to students for the day.
After spring break, asynchronous learning will continue March 29-31 as teachers continue to prepare for the start of hybrid instruction on April 1. Teachers will again be providing direction and asynchronous content to students for those three days.
Dear PPS Families,
We want to make you aware of some important updates and upcoming changes to our meal service. Because of spring break, meal service will be paused next week (March 22-26). Please be sure to stop by one of our current meal distribution sites on Friday, March 19, between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. to pick up seven days’ worth of meals to cover spring break.
With the upcoming transition to hybrid learning, the last day for home meal delivery will be Friday, March 19. The PPS Nutrition Services department is incredibly thankful for their partnership with the PPS Student Transportation department over the last nine months to make this offering possible for our students and families.
Meal service will resume with new locations and service times the week of March 29. We will share more information about the new locations and services times soon. Whether your child participates in the hybrid learning model or continues with distance learning, school meals will remain free for all students in all schools, regardless of eligibility. No student ID, names or other information is needed to receive meals.
For detailed information about our meal service, please visit the PPS Nutrition Services website. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-916-3399 with any questions.
We wish you a safe and restful spring break.
Dear PPS Families,
As we shared with you on Monday, Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) have reached a tentative agreement to reopen PPS schools for in-person hybrid instruction, beginning with our youngest students on April 1 and 2, 2021. As a reminder, students who participate in a hybrid model spend time in both distance learning and on campus for in-person learning.
The tentative agreement is contingent upon votes by PAT members and the Board of Education. The Board vote is scheduled for Thursday, March 18 at 6 p.m. following ratification by PAT members.
Please note that grades K-1 will have asynchronous learning days Friday, March 19 and again on March 29-31. On April 1 and 2, K-1 students will have a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction for their specials classes (art, music, PE, and library). Grades 2-5 will have asynchronous learning days March 29 - April 2.
We know that you might have questions about the tentative agreement, which you can find by clicking here. Here are a few highlights:
- Pre-K through Grade 1 classrooms will begin in-person hybrid instruction on April 1 and April 2.
- Grades 2 through 5 will begin hybrid instruction on Monday, April 5.
- Grades 6-12 will begin hybrid instruction the week of April 19.
- Students in hybrid instruction will be assigned into morning or afternoon cohort groups (all middle and high school cohorts will have in-person instruction in afternoon groups).
- Our phased-in return meets the requirements of the governor’s recent executive order and allows for professional development, building preparation and critical planning time for educators.
- In-person instruction for grades PK-5 will consist of 2 hours and 15 minutes of daily in-person instruction (except on Wednesdays).
- In-person instruction for middle school and high school will take place in the afternoon. In most cases, students who participate in in-person instruction will be on campus twice a week for 2.5 hours. We continue to be bound by physical distance requirements, which limits the number of students we can place in classrooms. It is our goal to get our secondary students in the building twice per week, and we continue to problem solve where space is posing a challenge.
- Our middle and high school schedules allow for continuation of learning and applied learning activities. In-person time with teachers will allow students to have interaction with their teacher and peers to explore topics more in-depth as well as get assistance with material that may present a challenge. Students will have opportunities to interact with peers in small, physically distanced groups.
- The structure of middle and high school hybrid schedules does not require teacher changes with the exception of teachers who may be on leave.
- You can find examples of middle school and high school hybrid instruction schedules by clicking here.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
- We are prepared to safely welcome back students and staff.
- We have followed science-based guidelines since the onset of the pandemic, and we continue to listen to public health experts, including our PPS Health Advisory Panel.
- We will have HEPA Air Purifiers for every room or space where students are designated to meet with educators.
- All schools will have a School Nurse or School Health Assistant on campus.
- Each building will have a Safety Committee, including PAT members. They will be required to do a full walk-through of each building by March 19.
- We will have rapid COVID-19 testing for all symptomatic staff and students - and we’re following OHA protocols for contact tracing and isolation.
PROCESSES AND PROTOCOLS
Things will look different at school for students in hybrid learning. New signage, hand sanitizer stations, smaller class sizes with students and teachers physically distanced, and of course, students and staff will be masked. Over the coming days, you can expect a number of messages and resources to help get you ready for your child’s first day on campus this year.
THE TIME IS RIGHT
Over 70% of families, including over 60% of families of color, told us in our elementary grades survey that they are ready for in-person instruction for their students. Case rates continue to fall in Multnomah County and Oregon. We have spent months preparing to return to classrooms. And 100% of school staff have now had access to COVID-19 vaccines.
We have gradually and successfully introduced on-campus opportunities for students over the last few months: athletics, performing arts, and Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI). In small doses, we have once again experienced the magic of face-to-face instruction and interaction, and we are delighted to exponentially increase these opportunities through hybrid instruction.
We would prefer to open fully, to all students at once. However, at this time we are not allowed to do so under the Oregon Department of Education’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidelines, which include requirements regarding case metrics in Multnomah County and the 35-sq-foot (aka “the six-foot rule”) social-distancing requirement that physically limits the number of students that can be in a classroom at one time.
We will let you know once the Board of Education votes on the tentative agreement Thursday evening. Until then, please feel free to visit our PPS Reopen page or share questions or comments with us by visiting our PPS Let’s Talk page. Thank you.
March 15 Message from Superintendent Guerrero: PPS and PAT Reach Tentative Agreement to Begin Hybrid In-person Instruction3/15/2021
Dear PPS Families and Colleagues,
I am very pleased to announce that Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) have reached a tentative agreement to reopen PPS schools for in-person hybrid instruction, beginning with our youngest students on April 1 and 2, 2021. Grades 2 through 5 will follow beginning April 5, while grades 6 through 12 will begin hybrid instruction the week of April 19. This agreement is contingent upon votes by PAT members and the Board of Education.
Our agreement comes after months of planning, preparation, and bargaining with PAT and other labor partners. As a result of these discussions, as well as significant input and feedback from families, we have a strong plan for safely returning students to schools. In most cases, elementary-age students will be on-campus to receive in-person instruction four days a week, in either a morning or afternoon class session; there may be some exceptions to this model at certain schools depending on parents’ expressed preferences for hybrid vs. continued distance learning.
PPS will reopen with a hybrid model on the following calendar:
- Pre-K and Head Start classrooms will begin in-person hybrid on April 1, with 3 hours of daily in-person instruction (except on Wednesdays).
- Grades K and 1 student groups will commence on either Thursday, April 1 or Friday, April 2. Students will be assigned to either a morning or afternoon student group for in-person instruction each day (except on Wednesdays) with continued distance learning instruction for all students in music, arts, P.E., and library.
- All students in grades 2 through 5 who have elected to participate in a hybrid model will also be assigned into morning or afternoon groups, which will begin on Monday, April 5.
From the onset of the pandemic, we have made our decisions in strict alignment with public health guidelines and followed the advice of health experts, including our own PPS Health Advisory Panel. For months, we have taken the necessary steps to begin welcoming back students and staff to our buildings as safely as possible. Since January, our teachers and other student-facing staff have had the opportunity to be vaccinated after the governor prioritized these groups - near the top of the list - once vaccines became available.
The time is right for us to reopen our schools.
Our reopening plan includes time for school staff to review and understand protocols and routines. A key element of reopening buildings is improving air quality, as air flow is critical to reducing the spread of the virus. We have had HVAC experts walk through all school buildings, made some HVAC improvements where needed, increased ventilation, and invested in HEPA air purifiers for every classroom.
We have prepared our school buildings by installing signage, protective barriers, check-in stations, and hand-sanitizing stations. Our schools have implemented numerous protocols and practices involving physical distancing, cohort sizing, and meal distribution in a COVID-safe manner. Each school will have a School Nurse or School Health Assistant on site. In addition, we will continue hiring additional custodial staff to join our hardworking custodians in making sure our buildings are as clean and well-maintained as possible.
Our teams have been diligent, thoughtful and thorough in planning for the reopening of our schools. We won’t be returning to perfect classrooms, but we will be returning to safe ones.
Our plan honors our shared commitment to health and safety and maintains flexibility at the building level to better address individual school communities' expressed needs and preferences. And importantly, our plan lets families decide whether they prefer their children finish the remainder of the school year online or through in-person hybrid instruction.
Whatever families choose, their children will continue to have access to high-quality instruction, mental health and social emotional supports, nutritious meals, access to services provided by our community partners, and the opportunity to participate in athletics and performing arts activities that have resumed on our campuses in recent weeks.
The past 12 months have tested us all. We are now reaching a significant milestone toward the ultimate goal of a full reopening of schools. We could not have arrived at this moment without the creativity and dedication of our educators, school staff, school-based and central office leaders, families, and the students we all serve. So we thank you.
We will have many more details to share in the next day or two, as the plan is voted on and details are finalized. Until then, I hope you share my excitement in knowing that the beginning of in-person instruction at PPS is less than three weeks away.
Dear PPS Families and Colleagues,
We proudly welcomed Governor Kate Brown to Sitton Elementary today for a tour of our limited in person instruction classrooms there and to look at the health and safety measures the school has implemented in anticipation of hybrid learning this spring. Our thanks to Principal Dana Nerenberg for hosting us at her wonderful school.
Earlier in the day, Governor Brown announced that all Oregon schools will reopen, at least in hybrid form, in late March (grades kindergarten to 5) and in mid-April (grades 6-12). PPS, and all school districts in Oregon, await further details as we continue our planning work, now months in the making, to welcome back students to safe and supportive learning environments this spring.
Given the significance of today’s announcement from Governor Brown, it’s understandable that you might have concerns and/or questions, whether you are a student, educator, staff member or family member. Along with other school districts across the state, we are anticipating more detailed guidance from the governor and the Oregon Department of Education. We will share those details with the PPS community as soon as we receive them.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago today, everyone at PPS has worked to support our students and families, providing learning in the safest manner possible given community health metrics. We have been continuously engaged in planning for the eventual and safe reopening of our schools. We have aimed to be safe, prudent and responsible throughout this pandemic, and soon it will be time to begin seeing more of our students in person. With safe practices and routines in place, we believe students will benefit from being on campus and seeing their classmates once again.
We remain grateful for your flexibility, creativity and understanding over the last year. Much more to come next week.
We wish you a safe and peaceful weekend.