PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the new school year fast approaching, the Portland Public Schools superintendent is preparing education leaders for a return to in-person learning.
PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero says the district’s teachers and principals are gearing up to welcome kids back to the classroom, ready to adapt to any changes necessary. Part of those teachers’ preparation is ensuring a safe environment for their students while assuaging any concerns from parents.
To help with those tasks, PPS officials recently released a 16-page document to families, showcasing the safety measures in place to keep students and staff safe — and the classroom open full time. PPS has also put in work towards increasing the vaccination rate of its educations and staff.
Furthermore, Guerrero says the school district is planning on holding COVID-19 vaccine clinics at schools to boost immunity.
“As soon as the 5 and up vaccine approval hits, we want to make sure it’s widely available and give our parents and our students that opportunity [to get it,]” he said.
In the meantime, Guerrero says the masking, disinfecting, and distancing will create the best possible environment to prevent infections. He told KOIN 6 News these measures are easy to adhere to in classrooms and throughout the majority of the school day.
“We have evidence that the combination of all our safety measures have made a difference because we don’t have data that indicates that our school campuses have been super spreaders or that they’ve led to big outbreaks or shutdowns,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero did acknowledge masking and distancing get more challenging when a large number of students gather at lunchtime.
“We’re going to have to work with each campus principal to figure out how we sort of reduce that ratio — it might mean more lunch periods or eating outdoors,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to try and maintain proper social distance, especially when they’re eating and they don’t have their mask on.”
The superintendent went onto explain that PPS has had isolated cases in the past — but to remember schools are hubs of the community. Meaning whatever the prevalence of COVID-19 is in the surrounding area, you will often see appear in a school setting.
But, Guerrero says, that’s why they have protocols of quickly isolating, quarantining and contact tracing. It’s why it’s important for everyone in the community to do their part to prevent the spread — whether you have a child in school or not.