March 13th COVID-19 Communication from PAT

Message sent to our membership on March 13, 2020 Download the PDF here

Dear Educator,

As you are hopefully aware, thanks to many of you and your advocacy, the Governor ordered all Oregon Schools to close until March 30th for educators, April 1st for students.

Though closing schools is not easy, we have absolutely made the right decision from a public health perspective. I am so grateful to our Superintendent’s leadership during a very difficult time. He heard our call, and responded the same day.

Naturally, we will all have many questions, and the truth is, we don’t have all the answers. PAT is working with PPS and others across the city and state to make plans that are responsive to the needs of workers, students, and the community. As we know more, we will share. Thank you for your patience and grace as we work through these difficult times.

Here are a few questions we have received with the best answers we have at this time.

Q: Will educators be required to provide online or remote instruction while schools are closed? 


The short answer is no. Taking a traditional school environment online is not a simple task – nor is it one that should be attempted without serious consideration of the practicality and risk. In conversations with PPS, it is clear we can not provide this in an equitable way. However, we are exploring ways to use technology to keep students engaged and connected to learning.

Q: Will we use the snow make up days at the end of the year?

PAT will work with PPS to best alleviate the impact on students' instructional time, while always respecting employee rights. We have not yet begun this conversation, so, we don’t have answers for you. At this time, the only thing we do know is that those three days on the end of our calendar are days PPS employees should make themselves available to work. We have no idea how this will play out, but it makes sense not to make any plans for those days.

Q: What about our substitutes?

We are working with PPS and OEA for support. We know this is a very stressful and uncertain time. 

Please know that healthcare and economic support are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. 

Q: Will we really return to work on March 30th?

That is the plan right now, but of course, plans can change. As you leave your classroom today, please consider taking things home that you may want or need during an extended period of time.

Q: What can we do now to help?

Plans are being developed for those not at high-risk to volunteer and help. If you think you might be willing or able to help with child care, food distribution, or other tasks as they arise, please fill out this form. But you don’t have to wait for us or anyone else-- you know your school and community. Work together to problem solve needs as they arise. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.

COVID-19 is likely causing stress and anxiety due to the unpredictability of this situation and the potential impact of a widespread pandemic. If you are experiencing anxiety or need additional support, please take advantage of the free counseling services through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Their number is 866-750-1327.

We encourage you to stay home if you are sick or have concerns about exposure, make preparations for yourself and your family, check on friends and neighbors, and stay informed (from the Oregon Health Authority, World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, etc).   

I want to emphasize that this is what we know right nowWe are advocating for your rights as union members, and the overall health of our community. This situation continues to evolve on a daily basis and we will keep you updated as things develop.  

Suzanne Cohen

PAT President
Portland Association of Teachers