COVID Creating Portland Schools Distance Learning Issue

Hundreds of Portland middle school students will have to stay in distance learning for another week. This comes as schools across the region attempt to grapple with numerous student and staff absences due to the current surge of COVID-19 cases. Last week, more than 17,000 Portland metro students were going remote due to COVID-related staffing shortages.

The district was hoping to have them return to in-person classes on Monday. However, PPS announced Friday that it was extending the timeline for some schools. While those students will be returning to their classrooms, students at George, Harriet Tubman and Kellogg middle schools will stick with distance learning at least through the end of the month.

PPS says the beginning of the month, 86% of PPS schools have remained open for in-person instruction, while 11 schools had to temporarily transition to distance learning. 

“Similar to the pandemic’s effect on other sectors of our broader community, the latest surge in COVID-19 cases has also impacted every facet of PPS operations,” said Guadalupe Guerrero, Superintendent of Portland Public Schools. “We continue to appreciate our community’s flexibility and understanding as we navigate changing dynamics. Any necessary adjustments will continue to be guided by our goals of optimizing health & safety in our school communities and preserving a continuity of learning for our students. We will prioritize in-person learning whenever viable.” 

PPS says they continue to rely on public health experts to inform their decisions related to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and take several factors into consideration when determining whether to reopen schools.

“We’re hopeful that the week of temporary distance learning provided scholars and staff the necessary isolation time to minimize another schoolwide outbreak,” said Tubman principal Kevin Bacon in an email to families Wednesday night.

Students at Cleveland and McDaniel high schools returned Tuesday. Jefferson High School had initially been scheduled to return to in-person instruction earlier this week, but it was extended through Friday. Now, Jefferson is one of six schools resuming in-person this coming Monday, in addition to Faubion K-8, Ockley Green Middle School, and Alliance, Franklin and Roosevelt high schools, according to a Friday update to the district.