PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon school districts may face the threat of losing state funding if they don’t reopen classrooms after Spring Break.
In a letter sent to school districts, Governor Kate Brown said she wants K-5 students and teachers back in classrooms by March 29, followed by middle and high schools by April 19. Brown’s office told KOIN 6 News their legal team is still looking over an impending executive order.
Most districts are planning to switch to a hybrid learning model which focuses on small groups of students. This could translate to groups being in classrooms for a couple days a week while learning remotely the rest of the week. Alternatively, students may spend half a day in the classroom and work remotely for the other half.
Remaining in full-time comprehensive distance learning will still be an option for students throughout the state through the end of the school year.
Schools are still waiting for the Oregon Department of Education to release updated guidelines, which could lead to a delay in reopening classrooms.
The decision to return to in-person instruction has sparked pushback from parents and teachers alike.
“It would be irresponsible to ask students to come into our schools before we have a chance to thoughtfully complete the plans and preparations to receive them, so I hope you are pushing as hard as we are to get the governor to pull back from this ill-advised mandate,” said Elizabeth Thiel, the president of the Portland Association of Teachers.
Portland Public Schools said all educators and school staff members have had access to a COVID-19 vaccine by now. PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said he would prefer teachers and staff return first to review safety protocols, after which they can virtually review the situation with students so kids will know what to expect.
Some districts — including PPS — are also still negotiating with teachers’ unions on returning. The Portland Association of Teachers said equity and safety are critical topics, especially in regards to how to teach students who stay in distance learning while others are back in classrooms.