Response to Governor Brown's Reopening Mandate

Dear PAT Member,

On Friday,  Governor Brown held a press conference at Sitton Elementary to announce that all districts in Oregon will be required to return to in-person instruction, by March 29th for grades K-5, and by April 19 for grades 6-12. She also wrote that “CDL may be offered for individual students when accommodations are necessary for individual student health and safety.”

This announcement, and the forthcoming executive order demonstrates how little our Governor understands public education, or what it takes to open our school buildings safely and equitably. 

We have been pushing for a solution that is safe, that centers students' needs, and that is workable given the realities of our resources and facilities. Adhering to an artificial timeline to put bodies is buildings would upend that work, creating chaos for our staff, our parents, and our students, who have already had more than enough uncertainty in the last year.

Despite Governor’s Brown’s timeline, PAT will continue to fight to make sure that plans for in-person learning are safe and equitable, including honoring the needs of our students who wish to remain in CDL.

At the bargaining table, we have reached important agreements on safety, including proper PPE, air purification, and safe cohort sizes. We will continue to fight for what we need to ensure a safe and equitable transition, including planning time to transition to in-person learning, remote assignments for educators who need to stay remote, and safety committees to hold the District to standards we have agreed on. Please make sure you take the Bargaining Survey so we can gauge the importance of each of these outstanding issues.

Right now, there are lots of questions about what Governor Brown’s mandate will mean for PPS. We are trying to find answers, but one thing we know for sure is that we can’t bring students into classrooms without a plan, and that no plan will be successful without the input of the educators on the ground.

Teachers are not alone in feeling anger, anxiety, and confusion about the Governor’s directive. We are hearing from many parents and community members who share our demand to center safety and equity in plans for spring learning. 

That is why PAT members will continue to stand with parents and community groups fighting for an equitable return to the classroom, including at a rally at 3pm next Saturday at the BESC, organized by MxM Bloc along with concerned parents, students, teachers, and school staff.

We will have more information and next steps in the coming days, so stay tuned.  

This year has been stressful and exhausting for all of us. But we need to continue to stand together if we want to build the best path forward this spring for ALL our students. 

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President