PORTLAND, Ore. — Two Portland high schools are reverting back to distance learning for one week because of a spike in COVID-related absences among staff and students, Portland Public Schools (PPS) said in a news release Thursday.
Cleveland and McDaniel high schools will be closed Friday, Jan. 7, before temporarily going remote next week, from Monday, Jan. 10 to Friday, Jan. 14. Extracurricular activities, including sports, will be postponed for both schools during this time.
As of Thursday night, PPS said it had a total of 431 school staff who have called out; 175 of these jobs are unable to be filled by substitutes.
“The number of unfilled positions across the District has grown this week and the numbers for [Friday, Jan. 7] are dramatically higher this evening than they have been the past few nights," PPS Regional Superintendent Margaret Calvert said in the release.
Calvert said Cleveland and McDaniel are the two schools with the greatest number of staff absences, but each school in the district is being monitored for various criteria to determine if temporary remote learning is necessary.
“Our goal is to keep our school buildings open and maintain in-person instruction whenever possible so we can surround our young people with the caring educators and support services they need – as long as we can do so safely," Calvert said.
On Thursday, the Parkrose School District announced Prescott Elementary School in Northeast Portland would also be closed Friday due to "excessive staff and student absences and not enough substitutes available."
As students were returning from winter break, PPS said Tuesday it would be reinstating COVID safety protocols for extracurricular activities like sports and performing arts because of the fast-spreading omicron variant, which has caused case numbers to skyrocket in Oregon with three record-shattering highs in the past three days.
Despite the surge, health officials said Thursday they do not expect leaders in Multnomah, Washington or Clackamas counties to implement any shutdowns or new capacity restrictions.