Parents to PPS, DOE: ‘Figure it out’ for Fall classes

Education

PPS plans to fully reopen -- unless Department of Ed guidelines say no

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As Portland Public Schools waits for guidance from the Department of Education on fully reopening for Fall 2021, some parents are frustrated.

Those parents say students need to be back in school full time in the fall and schools should prepare for the reopening under the current guidance.

PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said they expect all students to return in-person for instruction 5 days a week unless the guidance from the public health or the Department of Education doesn’t allow it.

PPS School Board stated they expect the “Ready Schools Safe Learners” guidance to be released in mid-July, just 44 days before school starts.

According to the Oregon Department of Education, “Different dates are under discussion for releasing various updates to school districts. We understand school districts’ need to have solid information for planning the next school year, and we are working to make sure the necessary information is available to districts as soon as possible.”

During the PPS board meeting Tuesday night, leaders expressed concern the guidance won’t come out soon enough. Parents, like Kim McGair, are also concerned.

Kim McGair is a concerned PPS parent who wants the schools to reopen fully in Fall 2021, May 12, 2021 (KOIN)

“The bottom line is our kids have sacrificed so much this year and the learning loss is immense. The social, emotional loss is immense, so PPS and really every other district needs to be ready to open under current RSSL guidlines,” McGair said. “If they change and get better, great. It will be easy to move that direction but there can’t be more waiting to decide.”

In a statement, the chair of the PPS Board said, in part, “We know that the Oregon Department of Education has to consider numerous factors and variables in coming up with Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance….We welcome updated guidance from ODE as soon as reasonably possible, as we are already planning for our fall reopening of schools.”

McGair said even though she’s been a harsh critic of the school district, she can sympathize with them a bit.

“The idea that ODE hasn’t released the new guidlines until July 19 is just ridiculous,” she said. “That puts districts in a really hard spot.”

The Oregon Department of Education said they have not finalized a release date for the guidance.

McGair said she thinks about what the seniors and the kindergartners lost this past year.

“We can’t do this another year,” she said. “The adults need to show the resilience they’ve asked the kids to show and they need to figure it out.”

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