‘Excessive’ COVID-19 absences force elementary, high school closures

Coronavirus

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A local elementary school is being forced to cancel classes this Friday due to shortages resulting from COVID-19.

The Parkrose School District sent out an alert on Thursday evening saying Prescott Elementary School will be closed the following day. In the release, they cited “excessive staff and student absences,” along with a lack of available substitute teachers.

Parkrose Superintendent Michael Lopes Serrao confirmed to KOIN 6 News the absences are, in fact, COVID-19 related.

This comes as Portland Public Schools announced Thursday evening that Cleveland and McDaniel High Schools are closing Friday January 7, due to COVID-19’s absences from both students and staff. 

The high schools will be doing distance learning starting Monday, January 10 through at least Friday January, 14, according to a PPS press release.

In a statement, Margaret Calvert, regional superintendent of secondary schools explained the schools monitored data and saw a “significant increase” in COVID-related absences.

“The number of unfilled positions across the District has grown this week and the numbers for tomorrow are dramatically higher this evening than they have been the past few nights. Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close Cleveland and McDaniel High School campuses, where staff absences are greatest,” Calvert said.

According to the release, as of Thursday evening, the district had 431 staff members call out that are eligible for substitutes. 175 of these positions are unable to be filled by substitutes.

Cleveland High School

Extracurricular activities, including athletics are postponed. PPS says this includes competitions between schools where one is in temporary distance learning while another is continuing in-person class. 

Cleveland High School will serve breakfast and grab-and-go lunch for grab-and-go pickup at Franklin High School Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The tech support desk will be available at support@pps.net or by phone at 503-916-3375.

McDaniel High School

Extracurricular activities, including athletics are also postponed. 

Grab-and-go meals will be offered between 10 to 11:30 a.m. Breakfast and lunch will be available for pickup next week for distance learning.

The main office is open at 9:30 a.m. offering students a PPS Chromebook, if needed.

The McDaniel child care center will still be open Friday, January 7. 

This news comes on yet another day Oregon shattered its previous daily COVID-19 record, with more than 7,000 new cases. Doctors say what’s troubling is we are now seeing a big increase in people in the hospital with COVID at almost 600. 

The highly contagious omicron variant is causing the surge.

This is a developing story.

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