PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As school districts across Oregon begin to clarify when — or if — students will return to classrooms for in-person learning, the Portland Public Schools Board of Education met to discuss that very issue Tuesday night.
After more than three hours, PPS announced they “will start the third quarter of the school year by continuing Comprehensive Distance Learning while expanding in-person opportunities for some students, starting with programming at 19 school sites initially and hopefully expanding to all schools by March.”
They also said they’re accelerating their plans to reopen a number of schools to hybrid learning by early April. Officials said the youngest students will alternate during the week between in-person and distance learning.
PPS posted the complete outline on their website and sent a note to parents.
Early in the meeting, PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said educators and school staff will begin receiving vaccines on Wednesday. He also said that by March 1, all schools in the district will offer limited in-person instruction — also called LIPI.
Two weeks ago, PPS officials said they would start offering LIPI this week for the students who need it most. LIPI officially starts Thursday at Madison High School.
But that’s good not enough for some, including one fifth grader who spoke at the board meeting.
“I’ve heard that other districts like Bend, Oregon are opening up but not Portland,” the student said. “All I have to say about this is it makes Portland look so bad. I wish we could go to school just like them. Is it really so difficult?”
Guerrero also announced PPS is planning for expanded summer programs to help students who have fallen behind academically.
The board meeting was very long, although not all of this was related to COVID and the return of students to the classroom.
On January 13, PPS said they were “aiming for a start of January 25” to bring some students back, starting with 16 elementary schools and two high schools.
When that plan was announced, PPS said the students will only be in buildings for two hours per day and also will still engage in the remote learning they have been doing since March 2020.
But other districts have delayed the return by at least a few weeks.
On Monday, the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board voted to delay the dates students will return to in-person learning — but it still means teachers won’t be fully vaccinated once they return.
Kindergartners lead off February 22, followed by first grade a week later. Then Grade Two on March 3, followed by Grade Three on March 8. Grades Four through Sixth go back March 10, then Grades Seven through 12 on March 15.