PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nearly 50,000 students in 81 schools filled 3,000 classrooms as Portland Public Schools opened for the 2021-22 school year.
The Oregon Health Authority said classrooms are one of the safest places to be as the delta variant surges and PPS was the first school district in the state to require vaccinations among their staff. More than 95% of PPS staff is already vaccinated.
But for students under 12, getting vaccinated is not an option at this time. Since the younger students can’t get vaccinated, PPS is prioritizing testing.
Last spring, when students and staff were coming back to classrooms for the first time, PPS said all 81 of their schools provided what they call “symptomatic testing” — testing of students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms at school.
PPS will do that testing again. District officials also said they plan to have free weekly COVID screening testing for students and unvaccinated staff. Screening testing is for individuals who are not showing symptoms and don’t have a known exposure to COVID-19.
But, PPS officials said, they are waiting for OHA to kick that off.
In a Back-to-School guide for parents, the district also said they have more than 1.7 million age-appropriate masks in stock throughout the schools for those who need them.
As much as possible, school will look and feel as normal as possible — with sports, theater and, of course, recess.