Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action (BLMWOA) February 7th-11th

Are you planning a special event in your classroom or school for Black History Month? Please reach out to Alisha Chavez-Downing or Julie Whitaker so we can highlight your efforts in our next communication! 

PAT’S Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action (BLMWOA) has been pushed to February 7-11 to allow our committee more time for more planning. We will update everyone as soon as possible! In the meantime, we encourage everyone to Pledge to Participate. Please visit for inspirational resources to support your pledge to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. Here are a few resources specific to Black Joy: 

PAT Stands with Portland City Workers

Unless an agreement is reached, over 1,200 Portland city workers represented by AFSCME and the District Council of Trade Unions will be hitting the picket lines starting at 9am on February 10th. Rob Marineau, President of the DCTU got to the heart of why these workers are going on strike when he told reporters that, "The city’s proposal drastically undervalues the work city employees are doing, providing essential services, to keep our communities healthy and safe." 

Show solidarity by joining a picket line at lunch or after school (and wearing your PAT blue) and by letting City Management & Council hear your voice for a fair contract now! And please consider giving even a small amount to their Go Fund Me account to show the city council that the city workers are supported by our community. Check the AFSCM website for picket locations and updates.

Upcoming Events

PAT Committee Meetings- Join the committee mailing list to receive a Zoom Link.

  • February 2nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee Meeting
  • February 2nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee Meeting

**All PAT committee meetings will be held virtually on Zoom for the time being

  • February 16th, 4:30-6:30 PM: PAT Rep Assembly

Upcoming OEA Training and Events:

For all upcoming events, please see the PAT calendar and OEA calendar

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

January 27th at Portland City Hall: PAT Stands in Solidarity with DCTU - Portland Association of Teachers

Our Union siblings, the Portland city trade workers represented by DCTU, have voted to authorize their Bargaining Team to call a strike. They are asking for our support as fellow union members. Please come in your PAT Blue to show your support!

  • DCTU Rally
  • 5pm, Thursday, January 27th at Portland City Hall 
  • Come with your signs and wearing your PAT Union attire
  • RSVP and Share here

Let City Management & Council hear your voice for a fair contract now! And please consider giving even a small amount to their Go Fund Me account to show the city council that the city workers are supported by our community.

From the DCTU on what they are fighting for: 

The District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) is a coalition of workers that bargains a contract together at the City of Portland, Oregon.

We are your families, neighbors, friends, and fellow community members. We work hard for Portland, ensuring that you have clean drinking water, habitable buildings, safe bridges and streets and many other essential services.

  • Our needs are simple: a living wage, and the ability to live in the city that we serve. 
  • Negotiations with City Management for our current contract have stalled. The process, which should have taken half a year, has been going on since 2020. It is now 2022. 
  • The City has denied our repeated requests for wages that keep pace with inflation. 

Since negotiations have reached impasse, we have two choices as workers:

Either accept the City’s final offer of wages that pay for less this year than they did last year, or go on strike.

Thank you for your amazing Solidarity and Support, and keep spreading the word!



Portland Association of Teachers

Continue reading

Standing Up for Educators

Dear PAT Members,

We’ve received an overwhelming number of inquiries about yesterday’s message from the District, accusing educators of misusing sick leave.

Rather than recognizing our extraordinary efforts to support our students in the face of untenable conditions, or acknowledging their own failures to prepare for this latest COVID surge, District leaders are now accusing PAT members of engaging in illegal activity. Their message appears to be an attempt to intimidate anyone organizing to assert their rights under Oregon law and our union contract, following the guidelines of OHA to stay home when they are sick or have symptoms of COVID, or shouldering the responsibility to care for their own family members who are sick or who need to quarantine. 

This response demonstrates how out of touch PPS administration is with what’s happening in our schools, and lands as an attempt to blame educators for the District’s own failure to honestly and proactively address the current staffing crisis and public health emergency.

This message from PPS is off-base, demoralizing to all educators, and an insult to our profession. 

We are nearly two years into this pandemic, and in the face of the Omicron surge, PPS leaders still have no plan to provide sufficient testing, or maintain the staffing levels needed to follow COVID-19 safety protocols. They have no plan to mitigate the enormous burden that educators are carrying as they show up every day to fill the gap between what our students need and deserve, and the egregious lack of staff and resources that the state and the District are providing. 

Educators have gone above and beyond this year, doing everything possible to create a positive and supportive learning environment for students in this year of chaos. Educators continue to grade student work, plan lessons, and communicate with parents while out on sick leave. Educators are substituting in other classrooms during their planning periods, or in addition to their crucial duties as counselors, TOSAs, mentors, social workers, ELL teachers, specialists, and instructional coaches. Educators are taking on the duties of paraeducators, education assistants, and custodians, to keep students and classrooms safe when schools are short critical staff.

Our schools are operating right now only because educators are going above and beyond every single day, and often into the night and over the weekend. 

Rest assured, PAT will aggressively push back on any attempt by the District to intimidate or harass educators from using their own sick time to deal with COVID infection or other illness.

We have been raising the red flag all year about dangerously low staffing levels in so many of our schools, and that the shortage would likely get worse if the District refused to address the underlying reason that educators are leaving the profession. The latest COVID surge has pushed a precarious situation over the edge.  

With Omicron raging in our community, it is predictable that so many staff and students will need to stay home. In the longer run, we know the staffing shortage will only get better if we address the crushing and impossible workload driving educators out of the profession, and build a culture of respect for the professional educators and staff who work every day to support and inspire students. We will continue to press the District for much-needed workload relief, both for this year, and for the years to come. The future of our profession depends on it.


In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel, PAT President                       

Gwen Sullivan, PAT Vice President


Portland Association of Teachers

President's Message: We’re All In This Together

Dear Educator,

PAT members continue to do everything we can to make each day safe, meaningful, and responsive for our students, whether we are serving them in person or virtually. 

In these first weeks of this new year, the omicron variant is once again upending our assumptions and presenting enormous challenges to families, educators, and schools.

Omicron by the Numbers (and the numbers we don’t have)

The omicron variant has brought COVID transmission to new levels in our community and around the world. And, while being fully vaccinated and boosted remains important protection from a severe case of COVID, it no longer makes a person unlikely to test positive or transmit the virus.

This has resulted in enormous disruption in our schools: 

  • In the last 10 days, at least 290 PPS staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • An additional 113 have been officially advised to quarantine. 
  • In that same period of time, at least 2,438 students have begun quarantine or isolation. 

*as of 10:00am on 1/12, according to the PPS Dashboard, for January  2 -January  12, 2022. 

We know that these numbers are a huge undercount of the impact of COVID-19 on our schools this month. They do not include:

  • Students or staff who are staying home with symptoms, as is required by OHA and CDC guidelines, as they wait as long as a week to access a COVID test.
  • The staff who must stay home with young children who are in isolation or quarantine. 
  • Students who used at-home test kits and whose cases are therefore uncounted.
  • The many students whose families are choosing to keep them home from school during the surge as a precaution.

We have been calling attention to the dangerously low staffing levels in our District since the fall, and Omicron has only made the problem worse. 

According to PPS data, every day last week PPS had between 175 and 282 unfilled absences in classrooms. 

The unwelcome fact is that with so many educators, administrators, custodians, bus drivers, and support staff out for any of these COVID-related reasons, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain even the minimum staffing levels to run our schools safely. 

We all want to be in-person safely with students. While PPS has not partnered with us in determining how to respond to these extreme staffing shortages, we know that we can not ask parents to send their students into schools if we can not guarantee a minimum level of staffing to run schools safely. 

Setting Priorities Together

Throughout this unprecedented school year, our union has tackled so many urgent issues. We fought for a renewed COVID-19 safety agreement for in-person instruction, and brought national attention to the urgent workload concerns in PPS with our Time to Get it Right campaign. 

In addition to these Omicron-induced staffing shortages, we are still facing an increasingly untenable workload, the need to enforce our COVID-Safety agreement from the fall, and the opportunity to secure lasting improvement to our teaching and student learning conditions as we bargain a new contract with the District. 

With so much going on, including new COVID-19 uncertainties, it is crucial that we invest our energy and organize around solutions that unify us. 

Thank you for answering our recent survey. We will be sharing initial results with the PAT Representative Assembly tonight, and will use this information to focus our collective power on what is most important to our 4,000 members. 

Whatever we do, we must do it together. There are no easy answers to the challenges we are facing, which is why it is more important than ever that we listen to all our colleagues, and organize for solutions that bring us together. If we are strategic, and stick together, what we do over the next six months will undoubtedly bring us closer to our long-term vision for the Schools Portland Students Deserve.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Know Your Contract: COVID-19 Safety Agreements

Monday we sent some reminders about our COVID-19 Safety Agreements.  Click here to see the message. 

COVID-19 Screening Testing for Oregon Educators

Oregon Health Authority offers free COVID-19 testing for K-12 staff in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools. This project offers free weekly screening testing by mail to any public or private K-12 staff. 

Sign up here for this OHA program.

Know Your Contract: Study Leave and Unpaid Leave-- Deadlines to Apply

If you are considering taking a Study Leave or Unpaid Leave next year, please review the deadlines listed below. (Additional information regarding these unpaid leaves can be found on the PPS website.)

Type of Leave

Due Date



Study Leave – Full Year

2ND Monday in February


Completed applications with all necessary information for fall semester for full year study leaves must be filed with the Study Leave committee by the second Monday in February preceding the year of study leave.

Full-Year Unpaid Leave

March 1st


Requests for a full year unpaid Personal, Exchange, or Career Development leave of absence (whether part-time or full-time) for the next school year must be submitted to Human Resources prior to March 1 or the leave will not be approved, except in extenuating circumstances where such leave requests will not be unreasonably denied.

Know Your Contract: Retirement Deadline is Approaching

The early notice deadline for resignation or retirement is fast approaching. If you submit a written notice of resignation or retirement no later than January 15th, you will receive $1,250. See Article 18.2.1 of the PAT-PPS Collective Bargaining Agreement. Please keep in mind that once you submit your resignation, you are still required to complete the full academic year.

OEA-PAC Convention February 18-19th

Registration is now live for the OEA-PAC Convention! PAC members may sign up using this link! We hope you can join us virtually in February! Register Now!

Candidates for the following offices will be seeking our endorsement at the convention!

  • All six US Congressional Districts
  • US Senator
  • Oregon Governor
  • Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner

Anyone who contributes to OEA-PAC is welcome to attend the convention; if you are not a current donor and wish to attend, make a contribution today at: Join the PAC !

PAT Elections: Vote In February

PAT elections will be held this year in February, for terms that begin July 1, 2022.

On February 7th, an email will be sent to PAT members’ PPS email accounts, which will include a link to their ballot, candidate statements, photos, and videos of candidate speeches.

The following are the candidates for the major offices in this election:


  • Angella Bonilla


  • Jacque Dixon
  • Gwen Sullivan


  • Emily Markewitz


  • Tina Lamanna

Executive Board (vote for 5):

  • Aurelian Boudreaux
  • Greg Burrill
  • Vincent Chirimwami
  • Amanda-Jane Elliott
  • Emily Golden-Fields
  • Joanne Shepard

The ballot will also include candidates for OEA RA Delegate positions and for NEA RA Delegate positions.

Please make sure to vote by Thursday, February 24, 2022, by 5:00 PM, outside of your work hours.

PAT Elections: Submit Questions for Candidates

Pursuant to Section 2, subsection E of the PAT Nominations and Elections Handbook, members now have the opportunity to submit written questions for the Officer and Executive Board candidates who are currently running for office. The Nominations and Elections Committee will choose up to 4 member-generated questions to ask candidates to respond to via an optional, electronic questionnaire. PAT members will receive a copy of candidate responses along with the voter pamphlet on February 7, 2022. Please submit your questions via this electronic form by 5:00pm on Wednesday, January 19th, 2022. 

Black Lives Matter at School

Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action (January 31-February 4) and Black History Month (February) is fast approaching! The Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee would like to share a few vetted resources to support your efforts to connect students to the vast tapestry of resistance, power, knowledge, and joy of Black Americans from past to present. In this time of pandemic, exhaustion, and anxiety, we know that many members are spread incredibly thin, without much extra to give. We hope these resources will make it a little easier to provide the windows, mirrors, inspiration, and education our students deserve. 

If you would like to help plan PAT’s annual Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action or if you have a suggestion to contribute, please email Alisha Chavez-Downing or Julie Whitaker. Thank you!

Please check out these resources to use with your classroom!

  • Teaching for Change will host a Virtual Curriculum Fair: Black Lives Matter at School 2022 on Saturday, January 22, featuring workshops, a keynote speaker, and time for educators to learn more about Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action.
  • The DC Area Educators for Social Justice organization has robust educator resources, with links to suggested lessons, films, books, readings, and general teaching guides for Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action and beyond.
  • It goes without saying that learning about slavery should not be your students’ first or only introduction to Black history. If you will be teaching about enslavement in America, Learning for Justice has an in-depth, sensitive framework for Teaching Hard History that is broken down into K-2, 3-5, and 6-12 grade level bands.

If you are reading this, please click this link to receive a small gift from your PAT Membership Committee.

Request for Help with Newberg Education Association

Newberg Educators are trying to win back community control of their school board.  

This coming Sunday, January 16, please join Newberg EA and community members to phone bank (can be done from anywhere) or do door-to-door canvassing.  

Sign up here.  Confirmation and training instructions will be emailed to you.

This is our time to step up and stand with Newberg students, educators, and community members. This is your opportunity to help say enough is enough to school boards who vote to dismantle the freedoms of expression and commitment to equity we believe in for our public schools. Can you give an hour this coming Sunday?  

January 13th Upcoming Webinar: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire

Your union is working on several fronts to help with the student loan debt crisis in this country. On an individual level, we want to help you better understand the Federal Loan Forgiveness programs, including the newly announced PSLF Waiver and to move you toward loan forgiveness. 

Please join us Thursday, January 13th, 4:30-6:30 PM, on Zoom, to learn the facts about the current federal loan forgiveness programs and to gain access to the NEA Member Benefits Loan Forgiveness Navigation tool available at

RSVP here. Please remember that you need to be a PAT member to attend, so if you are not already a member, sign up here today.

Upcoming Events

PAT Committee Meetings- Join the committee mailing list to receive a Zoom Link.

  • January 19th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Bargaining Committee Meeting
  • January 19th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Instructional Professional Development Committee Meeting
  • January 26th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Legislative Committee Meeting
  • January 26th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Membership Committee Meeting
  • January 26th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Racial Equity Committee Meeting
  • February 2nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee Meeting
  • February 2nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee Meeting

**All PAT committee meetings will be held virtually on Zoom for the time being

Other PAT Events:

  • January 13th, 4:30-6:30 PM on Zoom: Navigating the Student Loan Forgiveness Quagmire: Upcoming Webinar. RSVP today!

Upcoming OEA Training and Events:

For all upcoming events, please see the PAT calendar and OEA calendar.

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

Deadline Approaching! Apply Today for the Racial Justice Institute Fellowship

We wanted to pass on to Educators of Color the following opportunity to apply for the Racial Justice Institute Fellowship. See their flyer.

In the summer of 2019, the Educator Advancement Council piloted several sessions for culturally and linguistically diverse educators. That pilot helped craft the framework for the launch of the Educator Advancement Council's Racial Justice Institute.

The Racial Justice Institute (RJI) - taking place between January 2022 and June 2023 - is created to support and achieve culturally and racially affirming environments for educators serving Oregon’s Pre-K to 12 School Systems. This includes developing and facilitating a collaborative, educational environment for racially, ethnically, or linguistically diverse educators and that provides leadership to support culturally and sustaining pedagogical approaches and racial justice in school communities. There are two parts to the RJI: A Fellowship and the Network.

The RJI Network includes regular facilitated virtual learning sessions that will include learnings from the fields, opportunities for personal story sharing, and connecting with other educators who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse across the state who are also impacted by inequities. Sessions will include keynote speakers from a national network of leaders on topics which will be shown on this calendar page.

The RJI Fellowship will support 30 culturally and linguistically diverse participants to engage in racial justice learning, leadership, and project development in school communities (application linked here). Fellows will participate in collaborative, place-based projects to create more racially affirming educational spaces across the Pre-K to 12 school system.  They will have monthly, day-long virtual sessions with inspirational leaders, educators, healers, and social movement change makers to learn from in community with the group of 30 fellows from across the state of Oregon.  Fellows will be provided with a $20,000 stipend and funds to cover substitute teacher cost.

  • What is the Fellowship timeline?  January 2022 - June 2023
  • When are the Fellowship virtual sessions?  The first session will be on January 26, 2022 from 9am- 12pm. Because of substitute teacher shortages, we have scheduled sessions two and three on Saturdays (Feb 19 and Mar 12).  To best meet fellows needs, all subsequent monthly sessions will be determined by consensus with the Fellows.
  • Who can apply to the Fellowship? Racially, ethnically, or linguistically diverse educators across the Pre-K to 12 school system in Oregon should apply and their experiences and safety will be centered. 
  • How do applicants apply? In an effort to make the process as easy as possible, applicants need only submit an application form by January 10, 2022 at midnight. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and fellows will be accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible in order to increase your chances of acceptance.

For more information please contact Jonah Canner at [email protected]. Finally, click here to read our FAQs, where you will also find the Fellowship Goals & Program Components and the Arcs of Learning.

Yours in Education,

Shadiin Garcia, Racial Justice Facilitator & Jonah Canner, IDEA Racial Justice Institute Coordinator

Update on Workload Bargaining- January 2, 2022

Dear Educator,

In August, we demanded to bargain with the District over the workload impacts of the pandemic. The District finally sat down to formally begin this critical discussion in November. By then it was clear that our untenable workload– exacerbated by the pandemic conditions– was creating a staffing crisis that threatens our ability to safely run our schools.

We clearly stated our goal of offering educators meaningful workload relief, and creating better systems of support for students before the winter break, so that our community could have time to adjust to any changes, and so that students and educators could come back in January with some confidence that things will get better. 

After 5 sessions of bargaining, it became abundantly clear that the District wasn’t willing to offer any significant workload relief for educators, or any meaningful improvements in student safety or student academic/emotional support. Therefore, today, we informed the District we are withdrawing from these talks.

You can watch the latest sessions here: December 16th Parts 12, and 3; December 17th Parts 123, and 4.

The Crisis We are Facing

With over 1,400 PAT educators responding to our survey that they are considering leaving the profession, and the District’s own data highlighting the multiple crises facing our school communities, your PAT Bargaining Team pushed District leaders for immediate action.

We are dangerously understaffed, safety is a constant concern in our buildings, and many students urgently need targeted support.  These problems will continue to get much worse if the District does not change course. In order to preserve this school year, and have hope that next year can be better, we need to readjust by making this year manageable for educators and responsive to student needs.  

Our Solutions: The Time to Get it Right

In response to this crisis, PAT proposed a series of adjustments designed to give educators the time they need to meaningfully support students and create a positive and safe school environment. All of our proposals came from what educators said they need to better meet students this school year: 

  • Time for educators to adapt instruction to meet student needs and to give feedback to students and families
  • Time for educators to collaborate with SpEd, ELL, Social Workers and content teams
  • Time for school staff to work together on school climate for student safety and learning
  • Temporary removal of job duties that do not immediately have an impact on student learning
  • A requirement that PPS BESC staff who are not PAT members pitch in to help when there are para-educator vacancies and absences 

The District indicated that they shared the goal of addressing the crisis we are facing. However, they rejected almost all of PAT’s proposals, including common sense changes that do not impact student instructional time:

  • They refused to give professional educators any autonomy in how we use our “Professional Learning Community” meetings (PLC’s), insisting that all PLC collaboration time must be fully administrator-directed
  • They refused to lift the cap on compensating Special Educators for IEP writing, while also refusing to agree that Special Educators can not be expected to do legally-required work outside the contract day if the District refuses to pay for it.  This is a failure to offer support for Special Education students.
  • They refused to begin the New Year with a day to work on school climate. While the District agrees student safety and learning depend on schools having a building-wide School Climate Plan, they refused to use the natural opportunity of winter break to allow schools a meaningful opportunity to reset. Ironically, the District rejected our proposal (which we presented in November) by asserting that administrators need a month in January to prepare for one day of school climate work.
  • In the last minutes of discussion, they revealed that their “offer” to add a planning day in March was in fact just a proposal to shift a planning day we already have in June, while still expecting educators to complete all the end-of-year tasks and duties which that day is for. 

After analyzing the practical implementation of the District’s proposals, it is clear that the totality of what they are proposing fails to provide genuine or adequate support for educators and students.  

The only conclusion we can draw from this is that the District is banking on educators to shoulder the burden and legal liability of a dangerously understaffed system.  The District is expecting parents and students to accept a system where student safety is in question, and any meaningful support for struggling students depends on educators working on their own time, outside of the system that PPS has created. 

The District says it understands the needs of students and educators and that it is trying to balance the needs of both.  But those needs are not in opposition: to meet students’ needs, PPS must listen to what professional educators know is necessary to meet those needs. And it should be obvious that pushing educators past their breaking point invariably hurts students.  

Next Steps

The District has always had the power to work with the PAT to make changes it believes are necessary to address the crisis we are in.  We call on the District to do so now.  Any proposal put forth by the District that, in fact, benefits students and educators can be assured the fast-track vetting by PAT necessary for rapid implementation.

In the meantime, given the ongoing staffing crisis, we can only recommend that educators set personal boundaries which allow them to persevere until conditions improve.  Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup - we are not serving our students, our communities, or ourselves by careening to our own breaking points.  We must all set realistic expectations of ourselves, and support our colleagues in doing the same. It is ok to say, “this is all I can do” and let that be enough.

In the coming month, it is essential that our union shifts focus to fully implementing our COVID-19 safety agreements and making sure we do everything we can to keep school staff and students as safe as possible during this wave of the pandemic.  

Your PAT Bargaining Team is now focusing on negotiations for a successor agreement to our current contract, which expires at the end of this school year.  We will seek major improvements to the teaching and learning conditions in our schools, and will propose language to address vital issues such as class size, planning time, school safety, and fair compensation that keeps up with inflation.  We believe that we can and will achieve these goals as long as we are fully united in fighting for them. More communications about the timeline and process for successor bargaining will be forthcoming. 

In a moment when so many of our colleagues are feeling despair, we fervently believe that the collective actions of thousands of passionate professional educators can reignite hope and bring lasting improvements to our schools in 2022 and beyond. We will continue to fight for our vision, in which becoming an educator is not only a calling, but a career that attracts highly-skilled and diverse professionals, and supports beloved educators to remain in these positions throughout their professional lives. Our students deserve no less. 

In Solidarity,

Your PAT Bargaining Team

Steve Lancaster, Angela Bonilla, Emy Markewitz, Charity Powell, Francisca Alvarez, Thea Keith

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