OEA Fall Conference: Register Today

You are invited to join colleagues from around the state at the OEA Fall Conference. The conference, happening over October 16th, 19th, and 21st will offer online courses to build strategy around bargaining, organizing, and advocating. All sessions will be held virtually.

Register today

Read more below about the session you can sign up for.

Saturday, October 16 - 9:00-10:30AM

Bridging the Political Divide: Recruiting and Retaining Members Across the Political Spectrum 
with Rylee Ahnen, OEA Communications

Responding to Hate and Bias at School: Extended Session
with OEA member and social studies teacher Patrick Griffin, student Jessica Acee, and Rose I. Wilde of Lane ESD and "Showing Up for Racial Justice" Springfield-Eugene Leadership Team

Saturday, October 16 - 11:30AM-1:00PM

Bargaining for Equity 
with PAT President Elizabeth Thiel & OEA Consultant Lesly Munoz

Responding to Hate and Bias at School: Extended Session
with OEA member and social studies teacher Patrick Griffin, student Jessica Acee, and Rose I. Wilde of Lane ESD and "Showing Up for Racial Justice" Springfield-Eugene Leadership Team

Tuesday, October 19 - 5:00-6:00PM

Preparing Now for Spring Bargaining 
with Robert Young, OEA Bargaining Coordinator

Collaborative Problem Solving: Getting to Yes! 
with Klamath City EA President Maureen Lundy & OEA Consultant Bob Gray

Responding to Public Attacks on OEA Members Implementing Social Justice Standards 
with Teresa Ferrer, OEA Equity Coordinator

Understanding Implicit Bias 
with Lindsay Ray, Beaverton EA Vice President

Gender Savvy: Creating an Inclusive School Climate
with Basic Rights Oregon

Thursday, October 21 - 5:00-6:00PM

Bargaining Strategies for Disrupted Learning
with Robert Young, OEA Bargaining Coordinator

Advocating for Licensed Members with Performance Issues
with OEA Consultants Allison Orton and Bob Gray

Responding to Hate and Bias at School 
with OEA member and social studies teacher Patrick Griffin, student Jessica Acee, and Rose I. Wilde of Lane ES

Register today. Download the event flier for more details on all the courses offered over these three days.

Upcoming Social for Educators of Color

 

The Racial Equity Committee Co-Chairs, Lindell Stone and Darshanpreet Gill, will be hosting a social for Educators of Color (EoC) in PPS and you're invited! 

When: This Thursday (10/07) from 4:00 PM-7:00 PM

Where: Catalina's (517 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97211)

What: Come hang out with other EoC from around the district while enjoying some food and drinks provided by the union! 

Who: PAT Members who identify as a person of color

PLEASE RSVP HERE

COVID-19 Safety: Please wear a mask and maintain distance. There will be outside seating available. To keep the group-size smaller, please just bring yourself, and your colleagues who are also PAT members of color (not other friends and family at this time). 

Hope to see you there!

Lindell & Darshanpreet
Co-Chairs, PAT Racial Equity Committee



Portland Association of Teachers · 345 NE 8th, Portland Association of Teachers, Portland, OR 97232, United States
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President's Message: Bargaining for Smaller Classes

Dear Educator,

For years, our union has been fighting for smaller class sizes and caseloads. Many of you remember organizing with educators across the state to walk out of school on May 8, 2019, demanding permanent, statewide funding to support lower class sizes.

There are so many reasons why small class-size and caseloads matter: to give our students the attention they need and deserve; to create meaningful curriculum that is responsive to the individual students we serve; to foster positive classroom climate; to build the relationships and sense of community we know are at the core of learning.

This year more than ever, class size is a matter of health and safety.

Even when we aren’t in a global pandemic, overloaded class sizes and caseloads keep us from giving our students the support they deserve. Oregon continually ranks among the very worst states in the nation for class size. Student to staff ratios for specialists like school counselors and psychologists, school nurses, speech language pathologists, and special education are often more than double the national recommendations. And our students are paying the price.

Despite being one of the most important determinants of student learning, our union has not been able to fight for smaller class sizes at the bargaining table because class size was not considered a “mandatory” subject of bargaining under Oregon law.

Instead, we were forced to frame the conversation as a matter of workload, which is considered a “mandatory” subject of bargaining, and PAT has negotiated overage pay for educators with a class size or caseload exceeding specified thresholds.

Our position has always been that we do not want ANY teacher to have class sizes or caseloads that require overage pay. We want caseloads and class sizes that allow us to meaningfully engage our students. 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the consequences of not being able to negotiate class size and caseloads. Across the District we have cohort sizes that DO NOT meet safety and health guidelines from OHA, OSHA, and ODE. 

This has to change. And we now have a new tool to make the change we need. 

This summer, the Oregon Legislature passed SB 580making class sizes and caseloads at Title 1 schools a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. This new law goes into effect January 1, 2022, which means this spring, when we start bargaining our next contract with the District, we can finally talk about class size directly.

This is a huge step in the right direction. We are hopeful that, by starting with our Title I schools, we can change the tenor of conversations about class sizes across the District. 

When we demand smaller class sizes and caseloads, we are fighting for our students and our public education system. But we also need the state of Oregon to finally fully fund our schools, at least to the level of the Quality Education Model. As we struggle to “build back better” during the ongoing crisis, Oregon has the chance to finally put the resources behind the rhetoric. 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Know Your Contract: What to Do When a Student Won’t Wear a Mask

The PAT office has received numerous calls asking what to do when building administration will not enforce our safety agreement that requires students to wear masks. 

The answer is straightforward. We need affected PAT members to document the problem, so track the number of times a day you ask a student to wear their mask (or wear it properly), and the number of times you’ve requested your building administrator intervene to enforce the mask requirement. Obviously, this does not include students whose medical needs prevent them from wearing a mask.

If your administrator balks at enforcing the mask mandate, you can also share this section of the Oregon Department of Education’s Ready Schools, Safe Learner guidelines, updated on September 9th:

In the case that a student or family chooses not to wear a face covering for reasons other than medical need or disability, schools should follow district processes to determine how to respond keeping in mind both the responsibility for health and safety and the student’s need to access education. Conversations should be progressive and lead to resolution that ideally does not involve suspension. Schools cannot serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. Schools may offer a remote or online school option for the student. (italics and bold added)

The process of how to respond was laid out in our Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA) which states in Section 11.j, “The District shall not serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. The District may offer a remote or online option for such students.”

Documenting how many times you have had to request that a student wear a mask is how we demonstrate the “progressive” element of the RSSL guidance. By doing this you can help your administrator do their job--having a conversation with the student that resolves the issue and hopefully avoids suspension. Keep in mind, remote education is NOT suspension

If an administrator is finding it difficult to do their job and enforce our safety agreement, please have your building rep contact the PAT office with the details (no student names) of your efforts, and we will inform the District and school community of its failure to enforce a ratified agreement.

Know Your Contract: What Do I Do if I Need to Isolate or Quarantine?

Under the terms of our PAT-PPS contract and our Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA), educators should not suffer any loss of pay or accrued benefits if you are forced to quarantine or isolate following a COVID-19 exposure or illness. You can now use “Quarantine” as “reason” in Frontline. Your school’s timekeeper also has a code for “Quarantine Leave.”

If you have had to quarantine or isolate, and it was coded as sick leave or other accrued leave, please ask your building’s timekeeper to correct it. If this doesn’t work, please contact Peter Brogan ([email protected]). 

 

Know Your Contract: COVID-19 Notifications Must Happen within 24 Hours

We have received a number of reports that the District is not notifying educators about confirmed COVID-19 cases in their building. The language in our Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA) is very clear on this matter. If you are in a building where a COVID-19 case has been confirmed, you MUST be notified within 24 hours by email. 

PAT has met with the District to press for immediate resolution of this problem and they assured us that they are going to be streamlining their process. In the meantime, please stay vigilant and work with your building reps and safety committees to identify and address any additional violations, and please contact PAT so we can continue to pressure District leaders. For any questions on these notification requirements, please refer to Section 11e from our Safety LOA.

Know Your Contract: When Do I Cover for an Absent Colleague?

The PAT Office has received numerous questions about whether or not members must cover class for an absent colleague. 

The answer is in Article 8, Section 7.1 which states:

“Every effort will be made to employ substitute teachers to cover classes of absent teachers. Except in true emergency situations and except as otherwise provided in 8.7.2, professional educators shall not be required to substitute for other professional educators.”

Our contract also states that educators shall receive daily planning periods in high school and middle school, and in elementary schools daily planning time and 320 minutes per week of planning time. Any member who is asked to cover class for an absent colleague should ask when the planning time will be made up that same day. If daily planning time is not provided, a member should submit for pay the minutes of lost planning time.

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, inform your building rep and PAT will evaluate the situation to determine if a grievance should be filed.

Celebrate Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month with PAT

Join us in celebrating Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month September 15th - October 15th! During this time, we commemorate the beauty of our gente, our cultures, and the endless contributions to our society Latinos continue to make today. 

The PAT Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee has compiled resources you can use with your students, including: 

  • Resources For Your Classroom

  • Latinx Heritage Books For Children Of All Ages

  • Videos Of Pat Educators Reading To Latinx Heritage Books For Students

You can find it all on our website

Are you doing anything in your classroom to recognize Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month? Share pictures with us and use the hashtags #hispanicheritagemonth #LHMPAT on social media so we can all see the ways you are honoring and uplifting Latinx voices at your school! Adelante!

Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference: Saturday October 23rd

PAT is once again excited to sponsor the Northwest Teaching For Social Justice Conference! The annual gathering of conversation, idea-sharing, and inspiration is just a few weeks away.

Join us ONLINE on Saturday, October 23, 2021. The cost is just $10 — $5 for students.

Register Now

The keynote talk this year is Dr. Bettina Love, an award-winning author, co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN), and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her books include We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and The Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South.

In addition, there are dozens of educator-led workshops lined up in 2 sessions. See the full program at www.nwtsj.org.

We hope you can make it!

PAT Supports Health Care for all Oregon

Recently your PAT Executive Board once again voted to continue our membership with Health Care for All Oregon. PAT has been an official member of Health Care for All Oregon for many years. 

HCAO believes everyone should receive the health care they need, when they need it. While PAT members bargain and negotiate for our quality health care, we also believe everyone should have access to health care without going bankrupt. Often our own insurance costs increase due to others not having it. Health care is a human right. 

Among many areas, Health Care for All Oregon introduces and lobbies for bills in the legislature to provide universal access to healthcare. PAT, along with other faith, labor, and communities of color, supports this organization. For more information or to sign a letter of support www.HCAO.org

Grant Opportunities for Educators

The PAT Instruction and Professional Development Committee encourages you to apply for the following grant opportunities through OEA.

OEA Promising Practice Grant

Every year, OEA gives Promising Practice Grants to educators to support student learning and professional development for OEA members across Oregon. This year, there is $2,000 available for grants to PAT members. Members may apply for grant funds up to $1,000. Grants can be used to fund projects or materials that support improved student achievement.

Applications are due November 1, 2021. See our website for more information, including criteria, project timelines, and the full application.

Educator Empowerment Grant

OEA is taking applications for a *new* grant opportunity. Education Empowerment grants are awarded to help local associations engage members around important issues that impact teaching and learning. The grant may be used to support professional learning and/or to enhance and improve professional practice in a specific area. This grant should focus on solving an issue that will create a lasting impact on professional practice in a local. It is not meant to be used to purchase consumable materials and/or classroom supplies. 

Grant requests should correspond with the local association and/or school district’s mission/vision/goals, and must relate to engaging members on professional practice issues. Awards will be from $1000 - $5000.

Grant applicants must have communicated their intent to apply to their local association President. If you would like to apply, please contact PAT President Elizabeth Thiel ([email protected]) to set up a time to discuss your proposed application.

All applications are due by October 15, 2021, and projects must be completed by June 15, 2022. See our website for more information, including criteria, project timelines, and a link to the full application.

2021-22 OER Development Grant: Supporting Students who are Emergent Bilingual

New grant opportunity! Are you an Oregon secondary teacher who has experience working with students who are emergent bilingual? The Oregon Open Learning team invites you to apply individually or as a part of a team to participate in a new grant opportunity for the 2021-22 school year focused on developing open educational resources (OER) to support students who are emergent bilingual. Grant award: $5000. More information and the grant application can be found on ODE’s OER Grant & Professional Learning Opportunities webpage.

Oregon Education Association Fall Conference Kickoff

The OEA Fall Conference is here! Join us for three days of courses on advocacy, bargaining, member rights, and more. Find out more details and register online. Dates and times include:

  • Saturday Oct. 16 (9-10:30 a.m. and 11-12:30 p.m.)
  • Tuesday Oct. 19 (5-6 p.m.)
  • Thursday, Oct. 21 (5-6 p.m.)

Join OEA’s Autumn Outreach to Potential members in Portland this October 23rd at PAT

Over the last 18 months, many of our new hires have missed out on the traditional union welcome that we normally provide. Join us Saturday October 23rd as we reach out to potential members door-to-door, via text, and over the phone.

We know that a personal ask from another educator is the most effective way to get new educators to join PAT. On October 23rd we will focus our energies not just on potential PAT members, but also on new educators living in the Portland metro area who are working in other nearby districts and have not yet joined our state union. 

Sign up today to help with this outreach:

THE DETAILS

Date: Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

Where: PAT Office

When: 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM

You’ll receive a $75 gift card as a special thanks for giving time to this important cause!

Upcoming Events

  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM:Advocacy Committee
  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee
  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee

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

  • Rep Assembly, October 13th, 4:30-7:30 PM

Northwest Teaching For Social Justice Conference, October 23rd

Upcoming OEA training and Events:

Connection Before Curriculum: Social and Emotional Learning for Students and Staff --September 29, 4:00-5:00 PM

Facilitating Online Learning for Adults, Course Start Date: October 4th, All Day

OEA Fall Conference -- October 16th 19thg and 21st, 2021 9:00 AM- 1:00 PM

New Educator Toolbelt Series: Student Debt Relief--October 21st, 4:30-6:00 PM

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

http://www.pdxteachers.org/

 

OEA Event: New Educator Toolbelt Series: Student Debt Relief

October 21, 2021 · 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

OEA's Building the New Educator Toolbelt Series will provide an opportunity for early career Oregon educators to join in lively collaboration each month to explore the most timely and important issues facing you and our students.

In this session, learn your options as an educator for student loan forgiveness and explore NEA resources to help you navigate the application process.

Register Today

Rally to Support OFNHP Kaiser Permanente Workers

Please come out on Tuesday to support Kaiser Permanente Healthcare workers fighting for safe staffing levels and fair wages. Wear you PAT BLUE to show our union support.

Rally to Support OFNHP Kaiser Permanente Workers

September 28th, 6 – 7:30 pm

Kaiser Permanente Building (500 NE Multnomah St, Portland)

Facebook event: Click here

More about the struggle:

Like educators who advocate for students, healthcare workers are patient defenders. Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professional members are the frontline to ensure our community gets the healthcare it needs to stay healthy. The frontline healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente are fighting for safe staffing levels and wages to attract and retain workers.

When our community wins great staffing and conditions that retain experienced staff, we save lives. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need this more than ever, and we also need the voices of both patients, union members, and care providers.

Join the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals at 6:00 pm on September 28th at the Kaiser Permanente Building (500 NE Multnomah St, Portland) to raise the voices of both frontline healthcare workers and community members who are fighting for healthcare justice. We will be showing our support for safe staffing, a fair union contract, and a voice for both patients and care workers. Union nurses and health professionals will speak out as well as labor leaders, community organizations, clergy, and patients.

Here are a few links with some additional information:

Register Today: Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference

PAT is once again excited to sponsor the Northwest Teaching For Social Justice Conference! The annual gathering of conversation, idea-sharing, and inspiration is just a few weeks away.

Join us ONLINE on Saturday, October 23, 2021.  The cost is just $10 — $5 for students.

Register Now

The keynote talk this year is Dr. Bettina Love,  an award-winning author, co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN), and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her books include We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and The Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South.

In addition, there are dozens of educator-led workshops lined up in 2 sessions. See the full program at www.nwtsj.org.

We hope you can make it!

NEW Educator Empowerment Grant Opportunity

OEA is taking applications for a *new* grant opportunity. Education Empowerment grants are awarded to help local associations engage members around important issues that impact teaching and learning. The grant may be used to support professional learning and/or to enhance and improve professional practice in a specific area. This grant should focus on solving an issue that will create a lasting impact on professional practice in a local. It is not meant to be used to purchase consumable materials and/or classroom supplies.

CRITERIA:

  • Any local Oregon Education Association member is eligible to apply for a grant during the grant cycle to be used to support professional practice.
  • Grant applicants must have communicated their intent to apply to their local association President.
  • Grants must relate to engaging members on professional practice issues and should not be used for consumable materials and/or classroom supplies.
  • Grant applications must be received by October 15, 2021 for review and consideration.
  • Grant requests should correspond with the local association and/or school district’s mission/vision/goals.
  • Grant awards from $1000 - $5000

DEADLINES:

  • All applications are due October 15, 2021.
  • All projects must be completed by June 15, 2022.
  • All grant final reports are due by June 30, 2022.

Please review the application here to see specific questions and information requested. If you would like to apply, please contact PAT President Elizabeth Thiel ([email protected]) to set up a time to discuss your proposed application.

OEA Promising Practice Grant

Apply for and OEA Promising Practice Grant

Every year, OEA gives Promising Practice Grants to educators to support student learning and professional development for OEA members across Oregon. This year, there is $2,000 available for grants to PAT members. Members may apply for grant funds up to $1,000.

Grants can be used to fund projects or materials that support improved student achievement. The application is fully online this year and available here

Some examples of past projects funded by the Promising Practice Grant are:

  • A library of books with QR codes attached that link to a video of the book being read in ASL for families of students who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Supporting Latinx students through a MECHA conference.
  • Books for classroom libraries featuring main characters who are People of Color so that students see themselves in literature.

Timeline:

  • November 1, 2021 - Applications due. No late applications will be accepted.
  • December 1, 2021 - PAT IPD Committee will review grant applications from our Council members.
  • December 10, 2021 - Final decisions communicated to applicants
  • December 13 - 17, 2021 - Grants for those awarded will be processed and distributed by OEA
  • June 30, 2022 - Final grant summary due to OEA Center for Great Public Schools

Criteria:

In the event that, among qualifying grant applications, there are more funds requested than are available, IPD Committee will prioritize grant requests that fulfill the following criteria:

  • Grant applicant is a first time applicant
  • Project or idea which serves a historically underserved population
  • Project or idea which serve large numbers of students
  • Grant applicant is an early-career educator

Upcoming Building Rep Trainings

While we recognize the unique and challenging circumstance educators confronted last week as we returned to our schools, we hope the first week of school went well for you all. 

We are super excited to share with you the fall 2021 PAT Building Rep training calendar. If you are a brand new Rep, we encourage you to attend one of the Rep Fundamentals trainings being offered coming up:

  • Thursday, November 18th 4:30-6:30 PM
  • Thursday, December 2nd 4:30-6:30 PM

Please RSVP here for one of these sessions. (At the same link, you can register for other trainings coming up this fall and winter.)

We are calling these “Rep Fundamentals” not because they offer material that is basic, but because they review skills and knowledge that is most important for being a great Building Rep.

In addition to 4 distinct modules for Rep Fundamentals, we are thrilled to be offering a 5-part training series on Racial Justice for PAT Building Reps, specially designed for PAT by the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) in collaboration with members of last year’s PAT Advocacy Cadre. You can register and read more about these workshops here

Our hope is that Reps will cycle through all of the classes on Rep Fundamentals and Racial Justice for Reps over the course of the school year. 

And for you more seasoned Reps, PAT will be offering training on advanced topics for Reps throughout the year. These advanced trainings are still in the process of being developed so please keep an eye out for updates. 

In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers
http://www.pdxteachers.org/

Previous trainings:

  • Saturday, September 11th from 10:00 AM  to noon
  • Thursday, September 16th from 4:30 to 6:30 PM
  • Saturday, September 25th 10 AM to noon 
  • Thursday, October 7th 4:30-6:30 PM
  • **Postponed** Saturday, October 16th 9:00 AM-3:00 PM 
  • Thursday, October 21st 4:30-6:30 PM
  • **Cancelled** Saturday, November 6th 9:00 AM-3:00 PM

Interested in Joining the PAT Bargaining Committee?

PAT’s Bargaining Committee is both different from and crucial to our PAT Bargaining Team. Under PAT Bylaws, the Bargaining Committee "shall assist the collective bargaining teams in research and the development of the Association’s proposals under guidelines established by the Executive Board" (Bylaws, ARTICLE 10, Section 3). The Committee does the leg work to help us be more informed, efficient and effective during bargaining.

We are currently seeking new members for the Bargaining Committee. We are looking for a racially diverse group of members who also hold a diverse array of positions within the district. The more perspectives we add to the table, the better solutions we can find. Space will be limited to ensure no one position or community is given undue representation.

If you are interested, please fill out this Bargaining Committee Interest Form.

Heritage Months: Help Us Celebrate

We are excited again this year to organize around different diversity months that represent the uniqueness of our students, educators and communities , as part of the work of our Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee and partnership with the Racial Equity Committee. 

We are continuing our work with the 4 heritage months below, and adding 2 more to celebrate Diversity Months throughout the year.

  • Latinx/Chicanx/Hispanic Month (September/October)
  • LGBTQIA+ Month (October)
  • Indigenous/Native American Month (November)
  • Black Lives Matter Week of Action/Black History Month (February)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander Month (May)
  • Disability Pride Month (June/July)

We are seeking educators who want to help in the planning of these months. We will give priority to educators who represent each month for the planning teams. We will also try to make teams that represent all grade levels as much as possible. We will send an email a month or two prior to the month to begin planning. 

Sign up here if you are interested in helping plan any of these months. Please email Alisha Chavez ([email protected]) and Julie Whitaker ([email protected]) if you have any questions. 

Find more information on all our heritage months on our Social Justice/Community Outreach page.

Portland Association of Teachers

http://www.pdxteachers.org/

September 23rd 4-5PM, OEA New Educator Series Continues: Building Classroom Community

September 23, 2021 · 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Virtual Webinar

OEA's Building the New Educator Toolbelt Series will provide an opportunity for early career Oregon educators to join in lively collaboration each month to explore the most timely and important issues facing you and our students.

Session description: Many students in Oregon from early childhood through college will return to in-person instruction this fall for the first time in more than one year. Building a strong community for students early in the school year is a key trauma informed practice and a key social and emotional learning competency. We know that when students feel part of a healthy community, they are more ready to learn and succeed academically. This session will focus on strategies all school staff, PreK – community college can use throughout the year to build strong community routines.

Register Today

Download the Series Flyer

 

President's Message: What We Need for a Safe and Stable School Year

Dear Educator,

As we begin another school year in the grip of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the dedication, creativity, and professionalism of educators in our public schools has never been more apparent. 

Last week, the joy of finally being in-person with students, and seeing them interact with one another and with the adults in the school community, was overwhelming. Perhaps equally overwhelming has been the anxiety of returning to school while Oregon is experiencing a record surge in COVID-19 cases. The ever-shifting guidance from public health authorities and the state has left us all with so many unanswered questions.

The most important educational issue continues to be the safety of our students, our community, and our colleagues. That is why it is so important that we use every tool available to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our classroom and our schools.

Today, all PAT members are invited to an All-PAT Member Meeting to learn about our Tentative COVID-19 Safety Agreement for this school year. Our bargaining team worked throughout August to defend and strengthen the COVID-19 safety agreements we won last spring. 

Please read the Tentative Agreement for the COVID-19 Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA), attend the meeting, and then vote.

A ballot will be coming to your PPS email about 5:30 PM today. The PPS school board will be voting on whether to ratify this agreement at their September 14th meeting. Our COVID-19 Safety LOA for the 2021-2022 school year only goes into effect if it’s ratified by our membership and the PPS School Board.

Having a safety agreement in place is a crucial step in creating COVID-safe schools. We also need members in every building to be united in enforcing these agreements. That includes making sure adults and students are wearing masks consistently and correctly, using the HEPA filters in every space, and modeling and reinforcing social distancing. 

It also includes working with your elected PAT Building Representatives and your site’s COVID-19 Safety Committee to ensure that all our agreements and all the safety-protocols are in place at your school.

We believe that our Tentative Agreement creates the safest in-person learning environments possible, given the conditions we are facing. We also know that many of the problems we are currently facing would be much easier to solve if we weren’t living with decades of disinvestment in our schools. 

For years, we have been advocating for smaller class sizes, safe school buildings, and social-emotional support for our students. We need these basic supports now more than ever.

We know when we are united, we have the power to make things better for our students and for the future of our schools. Let’s start by making our buildings as safe as possible, and vigorously enforce our COVID-19 safety standards.

In Solidarity,

 

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President