PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero likened the immediate need to switch to distance learning to this “generation’s Apollo 13 moment.”

PPS leaders said they’re working around the clock to get a virtual learning system up and running for students.

In a letter sent to families on Thursday night, Guerrero addressed the many ways in which the district is actively working to meet the needs of students, staff and families.

PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero in a video statement during the coronavirus pandemic, April 3, 2020 (KOIN)

“This is the biggest experiment in the history of learning in the US and it will not be without its challenges and obstacles,” Guerrero told KOIN 6 News.

Schools in Oregon have been ordered to remain closed until at least April 28. PPS continues to work on establishing a home-based distance-learning system, which it has coined “PPS-HD.” Teachers and principals are expected to start connecting with students on Monday, April 6

“It feels like our generation’s Apollo 13 moment as we re-imagine the educational model from one situation in the classroom to one that promotes learning virtually,” he said.

Oregon prepares ‘Distance Learning for All’ during pandemic

Guerrero said PPS is also working to provide free WiFi to any PPS family who needs it. Thousands of devices, such as laptops, are also being handed out to students.

Any PPS high school student still in need of a device can go to one of nine distribution sites on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to receive a Chromebook, even without filling out a device loan survey. (Distribution sites at the bottom of this article.)

“Our teachers and principals have been busy working on getting familiar with various virutal platforms to engage with our students remotely,” Guerrero said.

But it won’t be easy.

“We ask for your patience as we transition from brick-and-mortar to one that might take place online.”

A sign indicates where PPS students need to pick up their devices for the distance learning plan implemented during the coronavirus pandemic, April 3, 2020 (KOIN)

What is still going on

Over the past three weeks, PPS said its meals services has distributed over 46,000 meals, gathered and donated more than 2,400 N95 masks to health care workers and first responders, and has opened up an elementary school to help a childcare provider care for the children of healthcare workers.

Custodial staff at all PPS schools are still working to keep facilities clean and sanitized. 

The district also announced the establishment of a coronavirus relief fund for families to access financial help during the ongoing crisis. PPS said more information on how to access this fund will be released soon. Contributions can be made by testing the word “GIVE” to 844.334.1540 or by visiting pps.net/coronavirus

The 9 distribution sites are:

  • Benson High School – 546 NE 12th Ave.
  • Cleveland High School – 3400 SE 25th Ave.
  • Franklin High School – 5405 SE Woodward St.
  • Grant High School – 2245 NE 36th Ave.
  • Jefferson High School – 5210 N. Kerby Ave.
  • Madison High School at Marshall Campus – 3905 SE 91st Ave.
  • Roosevelt High School – 6941 N. Central St.
  • Wilson High School – 1151 SW Vermont St.
  • PPS District Office – 501 N. Dixon St.