PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Staffing shortages brought on from a historic spike in COVID-19 cases have forced schools to close Friday all over the region.
On Thursday evening, Reynolds School District announced all schools will be closed on Friday through next Tuesday due to staff shortages. In-person classes will resume next Wednesday.
All schools in the Gresham-Barlow and North Clackamas School districts will also be closed Friday and officials directly cited staffing shortages related to COVID-19 as the cause. It was not immediately clear for how long the districts intend to keep the schools closed.
In the Portland Public Schools system, Franklin High School and Tubman Middle School will close and change to distance learning starting Tuesday through at least Jan. 21.
PPS officials cited a “significant increase” in COVID-19 related absences for both students and staff. The schools would be closed anyway on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
However, in a letter released to KOIN 6 News on Thursday, the chief of human resources for PPS, Sharon Reese, claimed they are getting regular reports of teachers being asked by colleagues to call in sick with the intention of causing the district to close schools.
Earlier, Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove announced there would be no school Thursday, and classes would be held virtually Friday. The district said they hope to come back to in-person learning on January 24. Forest Grove High School is also conducting classes remotely until January 21.
Forest Grove School District is just one of several districts that have announced a transition to online learning or cancellations. Schools in Portland, Vancouver, Tigard-Tualatin, Forest Grove and Salem-Keizer have all implemented the remote school option.
Additionally, PPS updated its COVID-19 exposure guidelines for students and staff. Those who are not up to date on their vaccines are required to quarantine for five days after exposure, while students who are fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine if they are symptom-free.
However, anyone — regardless of their vaccination status — who has close contact with someone infected with COVID should get tested after five days if possible.
This change comes after PPS announced some schools in the area would be transitioning to distance learning temporarily. Jefferson High School was closed Wednesday and was conducting online classes through at least Wednesday, January 19.
While the Parkrose School District moved six schools to distance learning for Thursday and Friday of this week.
Vancouver School District announced some of their schools would include remote learning 4 days a week for the next 3 weeks.
Schools affected this week are McLoughlin Middle School and Fort Vancouver High School. Then between January 18-21, temporary remote learning will be done at Columbia River High School, Skyview High School, Alki Middle School, Jason Lee Middle School and Jefferson Middle School.
In the Tigard-Tualatin School District, Durham Elementary School is now in distance learning. The district announced 5 more schools will move to remote learning starting Thursday, with no school on Wednesday for teachers to prepare. These schools include Tualatin High School, Tigard High School, Fowler Middle School, Hazelbrook Middle School and Twality Middle School.