Parents ask Portland public schools for a quarantine plan
While at least 200 PPS students have been asked to self-quarantine, parents say they did so without setting up distance learning alternatives.
PORTLAND, Ore. – Across the Portland Public School District (PPS), a few hundred students were quarantined on Thursday. This is causing a growing number of parents to worry about whether their schools could close, as are others in the Portland metro area.
“I hope PPS will be able to be more transparent with their plan,” said Kayla Gulbranson, parent of Duniway.
The plan Gulbranson is waiting for is how and when the district would educate the children, if they were to be quarantined at home. Gulbranson is not alone. At Tuesday night’s PPS board meeting, several parents rang the bell.
“There’s nothing in place and that’s what frustrates me. We’ve been doing this for so long, ”said Jeff Oswald, Hayhurst parent. Oswald said he wanted more for his fifth-year son when he had to quarantine for 10 days, after a classmate tested positive for COVID-19.
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“I’ve been told that there isn’t much going to be missing, so don’t worry about that,” Oswald said. “No one wants to hear this from an educator. I’ll be honest, it pissed me off.
PPS parent and teacher Cathryn Henderson expressed similar frustration to the board.
“I managed to keep my family and I safe from COVID for a year and a half, but it only took my son three days to bring COVID home from school and into our house. “
Henderson said he was told his third-year son was following all the rules, including wearing a mask and keeping three feet apart.
“There is so much we still don’t know about this virus,” Henderson said. “Precautions at school are not enough to keep our children safe. The few days I spent in my class, I constantly reminded my students to put their masks on their noses and keep a distance of one meter – they are children!
So what’s the plan of Portland’s public schools if they are to move an entire school to distance education, and what would trigger it? District spokeswoman Karen Werstein told KGW that the district is working with county health officials and Multnomah Education Services District to determine this.
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“If the boards recommended that we put in-person learning on hold, we are prepared to temporarily move students or classrooms to full distance learning, as indicated by our healthcare partners,” Werstein said.
KGW asked Multnomah County health officials when this would happen.
“There is no simple measure by which we would recommend putting a stop to in-person learning,” said Kate Yeiser, communications coordinator for Multnomah County Health Department Divisions. we learn as we go. We will know more about how the disease is spread and the level of action needed to control the spread so that students can stay in school.
Parents, including Oswald, believe the potential for in-person learning is clear enough to warrant sharing a plan with parents now.
“It’s inevitable,” Oswald said. “The children are going to miss school. There is no vaccination for the elementary level. I’ll be shocked if they’re still around by Halloween.
Many PPS parents are also frustrated with the lack of allocated seats on school buses. With the district telling KGW they are now creating seating charts, it was not time to stop a big quarantine in Duniway. Gulbranson, who is also president of the Duniway Parent-Teacher Association, said a student on the bus recently tested positive for COVID-19. Without any way to contact the trace, he forced 40 students to stay home and self-quarantine.
“We shot [our kids] off the bus because we don’t want to risk that possibility, ”Gulbranson said. “It’s not fair to those school kids who are stuck at home doing nothing.”