PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools released a letter Saturday to update families and students about its plans as it heads into an unprecedented fall semester still contending with COVID-19.
The new plan calls for students to be learning five days a week using a hybrid in-person and online curriculum.
PPS said in its letter than it will only open school buildings if public health experts say it is safe to do so.
The letter said PPS will consider learning and social-emotional needs for all students with particular attention to students of color and special-needs students. Minority and special-needs students have likely been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and may have fewer resources to accomplish their learning, the district said.
Right now, PPS plans to begin the fall semester on September 2. But the look of the first week, month and semester will change depending on how COVID-19 spreads over the summer.
The letter describes the preliminary plan as follows:
"We are proposing a model in which the first two weeks of school, September 2-11, would be dedicated to a number of important foundational social emotional and academic components to ensure students, educators and families are ready for the learning ahead. These activities would be conducted virtually/online and include:
- Teachers individually connecting with students.
- Multiple opportunities and ways for families to become familiar with the learning technology that will be used by their children.
- Training for teachers on using all teaching and learning technology and new health protocols.
- Social emotional engagement in order to help ease the anxiety and stress of the past months.
- Ensuring technology is available so that every student has a working device and online access, especially our “new to PPS” students.
- Health and wellness processes are practiced and in place prior to students entering the buildings."
PPS said in its release that this two-week period will allow students and teachers to adjust to new technology and help everyone become comfortable with the new schedules.
For Pre-K through 8th grade
PPS is working on an A/B schedule:
- Cohort A would attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Cohort B would attend school in-person on Thursdays and Fridays.
- Wednesdays would be spent sanitizing classrooms between cohorts and for continuing professional development and training for teachers and staff.
The A/B model would allow for half the number of students to be in a classroom at once to allow for social distancing.
PPS is considering a similar model for middle school.
PPS is considering allowing high school students to take four classes a semester for a total of eight classes a year. It is considering an A/B schedule as well.
Allowing a student to take four classes at one time is an attempt to help students focus their studies as they work on a schedule that is a hybrid of in-person and online classes.
For more information about PPS' plans for the fall semester, visit its website to see the entire letter.