Mask Mandate Changes

Dear Educator,

Yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority announced that, effective March 31st, the state of Oregon will be lifting the mask mandate for schools. 

We all hope that by the end of March, COVID rates will have dropped significantly and our communities will feel safe being in closed spaces with one another or with a classroom of students. However, we have seen time and time again how uncertain predictions about COVID can be.

We started this school year negotiating our Covid Safety Letter of Agreement with the District. That agreement is for the entire 2021-22 school year. Among other mitigations, our agreement states that  students are required to wear masks (sections 3, 11.j, and 13.e). Our LOA remains in full effect unless we jointly agree otherwise. If any state agency orders a change that impacts our agreement, we would meet with the District to discuss the impact. 

In the coming weeks, we plan to survey members, so that any potential changes to our agreement are driven by member voice. We will always advocate that school safety standards are driven by science.

I also wanted to share this statement from the Oregon Department of Education, sent yesterday. It clarifies that schools and school districts “may continue to require students, staff, volunteers, and/or visitors to wear face coverings during indoor or outdoor activities, similar to other COVID-19 mitigation protocols such as physical distancing, and airflow/ventilation.”

It also clarifies that if schools do not ensure universal masking, other protocols meant to keep students and staff in-person will no longer apply: 

  • Without universal masking, schools will return to using the general exposure definition: Having been within 6 feet of a confirmed or presumptive COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more within one day.
  • Without universal masking, schools will not be able to use the Test to Stay Protocol to allow students and staff to attend school during a quarantine period. Universal use of face coverings remains a prerequisite for the Test to Stay Protocol.
  • Without universal masking, schools will be required to do contact tracing for all school settings.

Please be on the lookout for a short survey in the coming weeks. Thank you for all you do everyday to keep your students, your colleagues, and our community safe.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

COVID Safety Update: Defending Our Agreements

Dear Members,

In the last week, your PAT staff and officers have been busy responding to numerous changes in COVID guidance and PPS protocols, and the resulting concerns from members. Here are updates on several pandemic-related issues that we are working on.

As things come up, thank you for going to your Building Reps first, so we can solve problems on the ground whenever possible. When things can’t be resolved at the building level, our reps will reach out to PAT UniServ for support with next steps.

Table of Contents

  • Can I Be Directed to Substitute During My Planning Time?
  • Informing Members of Positive Cases
  • Using Quarantine Leave
  • New Protocols on Contact Tracing, Exposures, and Quarantine

Can I Be Directed to Substitute During My Planning Time?

On Friday we learned that a District Administrator wrote the following message to building administrators: 

We recognize the additional strain that unfilled sub jobs create for your school and appreciate all that you are doing to cover openings. It is our priority to support the schools that are most in need. Please reach out to your ASD and Regional Superintendent to problem solve issues when there is not a central office person to support. 

As we are considering this an emergency, building leaders can direct staff to cover unfilled sub jobs per Contract Section 8.7 (pg. 28).

If you have questions about the contract language or wish to discuss it further, please reach out to your Employee and Labor Relations contact.

We recognize that many central office administrators are new to the District, but the summary of Article 8 Section 7 is incorrect. PAT officially informed the District of the error, and asked the District to correct the misstatement immediately.  

The language in our contract states that "except in true emergency situations… professional educators shall not be required to substitute for other professional educators." PAT and PPS have a shared definition of “True emergency” based on multiple years of Contract Administration meetings. A “true emergency” is a circumstance such as an educator having a slip and fall accident or medical emergency requiring them to leave school mid-day. PAT and PPS also have a multi-year common understanding that if a true emergency does come up, administrators must cover unfilled classes before directing an educator to cover.

In other words, if all administrators in a building are covering classes all day (except during their lunch), a PAT member may be directed to cover for an unfilled substitute job. If that is not happening, it is not a “true emergency”, and the member is not required to cover a class. To be clear, an educator can volunteer to cover a class when asked, and most do because they want to help.  

If you are asked to cover a class, and you are willing to volunteer, that is fine. However, you must be paid for lost planning time if you do. If you do not want to cover the class, then you do not have to volunteer. Students must have a licensed adult directing a class, but that can be the building administrator. 

If you are directed to cover the class when building administrators are not filling in for missing substitute educators, comply with the directive, and inform your building rep and PAT will evaluate the situation to determine if a grievance should be filed.

Next Steps

PAT asked PPS to send a clarification to building administration, but so far we have no response from them. In the meantime, we recommend sharing this email with your building administration so that they can have the information they need to follow our agreements in good faith.

What about TOSAs and Mentors?

PAT members who are TOSAs and Mentors (and others who are assigned to the Central Office) have been directed to substitute teach, on a regular basis, in unfilled positions since at least December. While PPS has asserted its right to do so, we had previously reached a settlement agreement in June 2020 that clearly curtails their ability to do this practice. 

The agreement states that PPS will, “not assign TOSAs to substitute for other bargaining unit members (except in true emergency situations) and will not assign TOSAs to cover vacancies created by leaves or mid-year resignations of other bargaining unit members, except pursuant to the CBA’s transfer process.” The agreement goes on to clarify that an example of a “true emergency situation,” as referenced in Article 8.7.1 that would permit PPS to require a TOSA to substitute for another educator could be if another educator suffers a medical emergency and no substitute is available. Yet, even in this example of a “true emergency situation,” the TOSA cannot be assigned to substitute for the absent educator for more than a single work day. 

We are currently pursuing a grievance on behalf of central-office-assigned PAT members, as well as an additional grievance on behalf of our Mentors. It is not an emergency when the District has the opportunity to plan and adjust ahead of time.  Grievances take time, but we are pursuing these on an expedited timeline. 

In the spirit of our long standing agreement, we would expect to see all central office administrators substituting in classrooms before declaring a “true emergency” as grounds to deny educators their much-needed planning time, or their ability to do the crucial work of the job they accepted.

Informing Members of Positive Cases

We heard from members at a few schools that administrators stated that PPS would no longer be informing the community or educators of positive cases of COVID-19.

This would be a direct violation of our LOA on COVID-19 Safety agreement, which states, “The District shall…Notify professional educators, as well as the wider school community, of any incident of COVID-19 infection/outbreak within that building within 24 hours of a confirmed case. Notification shall be by email.” (11.f)

We brought this to the attention of PPS on Friday, and received confirmation that PPS intends to continue to send notices of positive cases. Please remind your principal that this is still the agreement and the protocol. 

Using Quarantine Leave

We are receiving many questions about how and when to use Quarantine Leave. Please review the language in our agreements, and let your building rep know if it is not being followed.

In short:

  • You may use Quarantine Leave for your absence if you have tested positive or otherwise been told by a health professional to isolate or quarantine. 
  • You may use Quarantine Leave if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and have been advised by a licensed health care provider to get tested for COVID-19 and refrain from working within a reasonable timeframe.

Below is the relevant language in our agreements, and a chart to describe common scenarios.

Quarantine Leave Language in our Agreements

Our LOA on COVID-19 Safety (8/2021) states that “There is a protocol for educators, without loss of pay, to self-isolate as a way to respond to local school-based outbreaks or their own COVID symptoms.” (4)  This protocol is quarantine leave

Per our MOA Vaccine Mandate Effects between the Coalition of Unions and Portland Public Schools  you may use “quarantine leave” if any of the following are true: (8 and 10)

  • you are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; 
  • you have been advised by a public health official to self-quarantine or isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19; 
  • you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have been advised by a licensed health care provider to get tested for COVID-19 and refrain from working within a reasonable timeframe;
  • you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You may also use your quarantine leave for up to 3 days of missed work due to side effects of receiving a booster shot.

COVID-19 Quarantine Leave: Common Scenarios

When a PAT Member Has COVID Symptoms or Tests Positive:

Should I stay home? 

Did you get tested for COVID?

Do I use Quarantine Leave or sick leave?

How long should I stay home? 


OHA and CDC recommend that people with COVID-19 symptoms stay home. 



Get tested as soon as you can.

Use Quarantine Leave while you await your test and results.

Stay home if you are sick. 


Tested Negative

Use Quarantine Leave until confirmed NEGATIVE.

Use Sick Leave after that. 

Stay home if you are sick. 

After you are confirmed negative for COVID-19, use sick leave



Tested Positive

Use Quarantine Leave until a medical provider states you can return to work.

According to most recent guidance: 

If asymptomatic, 5 days from date of positive test; 

if symptomatic, 5 days from onset of symptoms; or longer if you continue to have symptoms.

The CDC lists the following as symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

New Protocols on Contact Tracing, Exposures, and Quarantine

PPS sent out a message yesterday listing changes to PPS’s COVID-19 Response Protocols

We have many questions about how these changes will work, how they will keep students and educators safe, and how they line up with our COVID-19 safety agreements. We have requested a meeting with PPS leaders, Labor Relations, and representatives of other school staff unions, to review the plans together. We are awaiting a response. 


In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers

COVID-19 Safety Reminders

Dear Educator,

Here are some important reminders about our COVID-19 Safety Agreements

Masks and Ventilation and Social Distancing

  • KN95 masks are more effective than cloth or surgical masks for preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Our safety agreement requires that KN95 masks are available to any educator who requests them. If your building does not have a supply of KN95 masks, make a verbal and written request to your principal.
  • Use your HEPA-air purifier on high, and keep your door or window open. Our safety agreement requires that there be HEPA purifiers sufficient for the space.
  • Make sure students remain distanced and masked. This is in our agreement, and mask wearing is required by the state, as well.
  • Check with your safety committee to ensure there is a plan for lunch that ensures students maintain at least 6 feet while eating.

Quarantine and Isolation

  • Staff and students should not come to school if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. Remind parents not to send their children to school if they have any symptoms.
  • If you have tested positive or otherwise been told by a health professional to isolate or quarantine, you can use Quarantine Leave for your absence. 
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and have been advised by a licensed health care provider to get tested for COVID-19 and refrain from working within a reasonable timeframe, you may also use Quarantine Leave.


  • If you become symptomatic at school, you can access a rapid test at your school site.
  • Staff who are asymptomatic and were exposed to COVID-19, can access a test at the BESC before or after school. Check here for hours and availability of tests. [NOTE: as of the drafting of this email, the link says that “testing is full” for January 10th.]
  • If you become symptomatic when you are not at school, you should utilize your health provider or other opportunities to get tested for COVID-19. 

It has been widely reported that many people are having to wait a week or more to access testing. In the meantime, symptomatic people awaiting a test should stay home. We know that is greatly impacting staffing, attendance, and anxiety levels about our schools 

We are hearing many concerns about staffing levels and student attendance rates at schools across the District. We have formally requested school-by-school data from the District and are awaiting a response. 

Thank you for all you do to support your students and your colleagues in this very difficult time.

Portland Association of Teachers

Our COVID Safety Agreements: Reminders and Highlights (1/1/22)

Dear Educator,

Over winter break, the spread of COVID-19 in our community has increased drastically. While there is reason to hope that the omicron variant is milder than previous strains, and that vaccinated individuals remain at much lower risk of severe illness if infected, the Oregon Health Authority has predicted that Oregon hospitals will be overwhelmed in the coming month. 

Together we have fought for some of the strongest safety agreements in the country, and it is more important than ever that we make sure they are followed, to keep students, school staff, and our community as safe as possible.

Of course, if you are feeling sick, STAY HOME and use Absence Management to request a guest teacher, as soon as you know you will be gone.  NBC reported that a cough, congestion, runny nose, and fatigue appear to be prominent symptoms with the omicron variant.  

If you are experiencing any COVID symptoms or if you have had direct contact with someone who has COVID, get tested. The CDC and OHA have updated their recommendation that fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 be tested 5-7 days after exposure, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Although the CDC recently shortened the recommended period for isolation to 5 days after a positive test for the general population, the Oregon Health Authority is still recommending a 10-day isolation or quarantine period for schools

Please review our COVID-19 Safety agreements, as well as the guidance from ODE. Below are some highlights.

Our LOA on COVID-19 Safety (8/2021) states that:

  • Staff and students exposed* to COVID-19 must be excluded. (1) (*The OHA currently defines “exposed” as people who are not fully vaccinated)
  • KN-95 must be provided to any educator who requests them. “Subject to availability” is in case there is a supply shortage. (3)
  • When educators need to self-isolate due to being COVID-positive, they will not lose pay. (4)

Per our MOA Vaccine Mandate Effects between the Coalition of Unions and Portland Public Schools  you may use “quarantine leave” if any of the following are true:

  • you are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; 
  • you been advised by a public health official to self-quarantine or isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19; 
  • you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have been advised by a licensed health care provider to get tested for COVID-19 and refrain from working within a reasonable timeframe;
  • you are diagnosed with COVID-19. (10 a and b)
  • You may also use your quarantine leave for up to 3 days of missed work due to side effects of receiving a booster shot (Vaccine Mandate MOA, 8).

Ready Schools, Safe Learners (RSSL) and Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools (both updated 12/13/2021) give the following guidance:

  • People who have COVID-19 should isolate for 10 days after their symptoms started (or, if they have no symptoms, for 10 days after the test date) and 24 hours after any fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medicine (COVID-19 Sceneries, p 4)
  • Any person who is not fully vaccinated and who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19 should quarantine at home. (COVID-19 Sceneries, p 4)
  • ODE says that close contacts who have been fully immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine are not required to quarantine. Fully immunized close contacts should still monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 during the 14 days after exposure, and if symptoms develop they should isolate and seek testing. (COVID-19 Sceneries, p 5)
  • All individuals 5 years of age and older are required to wear a face covering while indoors in a K-12 school, during school hours, unless they have an accommodation for a medical need or disability. Schools cannot serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. (RSSL p 9)

We have asked district leaders for an update on their plans to address any potential staffing shortage, and to reinforce safety mitigation in the schools, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and solutions for lunch-time. We are currently awaiting a response.

Wishing you health and fortitude in the New Year,

Portland Association of Teachers

COVID-19 Safety Updates, August 6, 2021

Dear Educator,

We have been looking forward all summer to serving our students safely in-person this fall. Since the school year ended in June, the landscape around COVID-19 has shifted dramatically, and the downward slope of case-counts that we saw in June and early July, has reversed.

The Delta variant continues to challenge our understanding of the virus. What we know for sure is that every safety measure we can put in place this fall, will help prevent disruptions all year, from quarantine, sickness, and prolonged absences.

Your PAT staff and officers have been working hard to assess the evolving situation, including COVID metrics, the updated guidances from the Oregon Department of Education and the Center for Disease Control, and recommendations from the American Association of Pediatrics

The CDC, the AAP and the ODE have all recommended layered safety measures. In addition to vaccinating everyone who is eligible, these recommendations include:

  •     Wearing a mask indoors
  •     Frequent hand washing
  •     Ensuring physical distancing between students.
  •     Adequate ventilation in every classroom.
  •     A program for regular testing and COVID screening.

Many of these provisions overlap with our Safety MOU from the spring. That MOU had an “anticipated duration” of the 2020-21 school year, but things have not gone as anticipated, and COVID remains a significant threat to public health.

Today we notified PPS that if we do not update our standing agreement, our Spring 2021 Safety MOU will remain in effect, as our working conditions are still significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.   

Our objective is to have clear safety agreements in place before students begin the school year. We are hopeful that building off the work that went into our spring MOU, and the guidance from the CDC and ODE, this can be done very quickly. The district has already indicated verbally their intention to implement all the recommendations of the ODE. 

We are creating a survey to assess your priorities in updating the agreement; we expect to get it to you by late next week. 

In the meantime, we hope you are able to take time to relax for the last weeks of a much-deserved summer break.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel, President

Portland Association of Teachers

August 20 Email from PAT- re Building Access Prior to Start of School Year

Dear PAT Educator,

Today is the first day that educators can access their building to prepare for the school year, according to our contract.  We have heard from many educators who wish to enter their classrooms to prepare for the year and access materials.

Article 19.5 of the PAT/PPS Collective Bargaining Agreement states, “Professional educators shall have access to their worksites to unpack and organize their rooms as soon as possible but, at minimum, one (1) week prior to their first work day.”  If your administrator has not already announced a schedule to safely re-enter the building, contact your building administrator to schedule a time to re-enter the building.  

If your administrator refuses to admit you into the building, citing Covid procedures, please contact your Uniserv Representative at PAT.  While we want to remain sensitive to PPS’s attempts to implement Covid safe re-entry plans, we believe PPS has had sufficient time to design these re-entry plans, especially considering the deadline to re-enter the building is today. 

Portland Association of Teachers

Have You NOT Received ANY Payments for Work Share or Unemployment Yet?

Dear Educator,

As of last Thursday, July 16th, the majority of members received all of their Unemployment checks and Work Share checks. However, there are still many members who have not received any Work Share or Unemployment checks due to the following reasons:

  1. They are receiving income from a second source. This includes another pension, income from a second job, income from a trust or estate, or income from a small family business.
  2. They just retired.
  3. They incorrectly filled out their two-page Work Share application. (The two page application filled out by members in May.)

PPS is aware of these three categories of individuals who have not yet received any of their payments. PPS HR is slowly working its way through a list of employees and either emailing educators or calling educators to follow up.

If you have emailed PAT since July 13 about having not received any payments yet (either emailed your UniServ Consultant or the PAT general email address), we have your name and are compiling a list to forward to PPS HR. 

However, if you have not received any payments yet, have not contacted your UniServ Consultant or PAT since July 13, and you have not received a call or email from PPS HR recently, please enter your contact info on this form. We want to have a list to forward to PPS HR, and we also want to make sure that everyone receives the payments they are owed.

In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers

Special Education in the Time of COVID— Discussion with ODE

Dear Colleagues,

OEA is hosting a virtual meeting to discuss COVID-19 issues specifically concerning Special Ed Educators. Below is the invitation from OEA President John Larson, with links on how to register to participate. We hope to see you there.

Registration is REQUIRED to participate in this meeting.

Good morning,

There will be a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, July 15, from 3:30-5pm to discuss Special Education issues during a time of COVID with Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Colt Gill and Oregon Department of Education Staff.  The emphasis will be on IEP development/modifications, but all special education issues can be a part of the conversation.  
Please take a moment to register to participate in the meeting here; please be sure to enter the email address where you wish to receive the link/password to join the meeting.
You will receive the link and password to join the meeting twice (once in the morning, once in the afternoon at approximately 3pm) on July 15 at the email address you entered when registering. Note: If you do not intend to participate in this meeting but still wish to be notified for future meetings, please register and indicate “No” in the drop-down asking whether or not you will participate.
Registration for this meeting will close Monday, July 13, at 4:00 p.m.
PLEASE NOTE: Registration is REQUIRED to participate in this meeting.
The email address you enter during registration is where you will receive the link/password to join the meeting.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].
Thank you for participating in this very important work.  I appreciate all you do.
C. John Larson
OEA President
Phone (503) 495-2124
Fax (503) 624-5814 
"Improving the future of all Oregonians through quality public education" 
"We help students succeed!"

Portland Association of Teachers

May 29 Communication from PAT- re Update from PAT on PPS Work Share Rules

Message sent to our membership on May 29th, 2020


Dear PAT Colleagues:


The PAT learned this week that Portland Public Schools is enforcing the Work Share requirement of a 20% reduction in work in a way that was never discussed or agreed to. While the District's expectation remains that educators should be working 5 hours a day or 20 hours a week, if in the course of your week you anticipate working beyond 32 hours, please notify your supervisor immediately. Your supervisor must then tell you what duties they will be taking off your plate for the week to ensure that you can complete your work within the 32 hours, or proportion thereof if you are employed at less than 1.0 FTE. If your supervisor fails to provide adequate adjustment to your workload for the week, you should not work beyond your 32 hours. Otherwise you risk being removed from the Work Share program for that week. 


Because PAT members work about 40 hours per week (when the two-hour staff meeting is counted), the four-day furlough total number of hours worked must be no more than 32 hours (four days of eight hours a day). As such, PAT advises you to keep a careful record of your work activities. 


What does tracking your hours mean? For each type of school that is a little different. Keep in mind that the current collective bargaining agreement requires that you follow a particular distribution of time each day. 

Continue reading

May 21st, PAT’s Matching Donation Fund Campaign

The communication sent to PAT membership on May 21st, 2020:


Dear Educator,

Many of you have been asking about charitable giving during these difficult times. We are excited to announce a partnership with The Fund for PPS where 100% of money raised will go directly to our PPS families and students in need.

Starting today, educators and members of the general public can make donations to The Fund for PPS and every dollar will be matched by the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT), up to a maximum of $20,000. The matching fund campaign will continue through June 1, 2020. 

Your elected PAT Executive Board of Directors take managing your dues dollars very seriously. Because of COVID-19, items in our budget related to travel or larger gatherings this spring have been cancelled. We’ve decided to use a portion of these unused funds, up to $20,000, to support our PPS families.

All of our educators are going above and beyond right now to support our students. We know that some of you are experiencing financial hardships of your own, or that many of you have already done some charitable giving. We also know many of you are eager to work collectively to support our students and their families, and we are excited about the opportunity to double our impact.

You can help by contributing here and promoting this matching campaign with your friends and families.

You can read our press release here.  

Thank you so much for all you’ve done for our students, families, and communities already.

In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers