PORTLAND, Ore. — Right now Portland Public Schools is adapting, like every other district in the state of Oregon, to try to come up with a distance learning plan that will serve all students equally as well as keep them learning and engaged.
At this point, schools in Oregon will stay closed until at least April 28. And it could be longer. Earlier this week, the deputy superintendent of schools in Oregon said students may not return to the classroom again this academic year.
On Thursday, the district posted a video message from PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero talking about what the district has been doing and what families can expect moving forward.
Guerrero said the district's got a team working around the clock to develop an online distance-learning plan that has to be complete in less than 10 days. They're calling the plan "PPS-HD" for short.
“For a district our size, we're dealing with a different scale,” said Guerrero.
Parents and students can expect teachers to begin reaching out starting next Monday.
The situation with technology
“We've already received, as of this morning, over 7,500 requests for a laptop,” Guerrero said.
PPS has distributed almost 4,000 laptops and it expects to give out several thousand more.
In the meantime, "The Fund for PPS, a fundraising nonprofit that supports the district, is working on providing internet access to students who need it, but it won't be easy.
“We are anticipating a potential shortage of hotspots. I know we got close to another 800 hotspots just secured,” said Guerrero.
He said, like other districts, PPS faces significant challenges moving forward relating to making sure it is able to equally serve all students, including English language learners or students with disabilities.
But those challenges are also offset by some positive happenings in the district.
The good happening at PPS
The district has given out more than 76,000 free meals at 15 locations across Portland.
In addition, through a partnership with "The Fund for PPS," Lyft has been giving rides to families in need who have to go to essential places like the doctor's office or grocery store.
DoorDash, a food delivery service, has also come on board to deliver meals and devices like laptops to students who can't go outside because of their health.
Local restaurants have provided students free meals, and what the district calls a "Coronavirus Rapid Relief Fund," has been set up for families who need financial help. There's also an opportunity to donate. People who would like to help families in need, can text “GIVE” to 844-334-1540.
Guerrero said he knows there are still a lot of questions about how the school closure affects high school seniors, high school credits, or how grading will be conducted during all the online learning. He said he’s hoping for more guidance on all of that from the Oregon Department of Education.