March 17: Updates, Facts and Details from Our Tentative Agreement to Reopen Schools3/17/2021
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.