Last April, we were just beginning to understand the impact that COVID-19 would have on our schools and on the world. After a year of distance learning, educators from every school are welcoming students back in-person this month.
PAT members are sharing so many different emotions and experiences connected to this transition: the joy of seeing your students face to face; exhaustion from planning and carrying out two modes of teaching students; frustration at having so many loose ends left to schools and teachers to figure out on their own; determination to get it right for our students.
As we enter a new phase of this unprecedented school year, the safety and well-being of our students, their families, and our community remains at the heart of all we do.
To add to the anxiety of the last few weeks, COVID case counts in Multnomah County have increased significantly since the Governor ordered schools to open in-person. A month ago, Multnomah County recorded 62 cases per hundred thousand over a two-week period. For the most recent 2-week period, we are at 140 cases per hundred thousand.
Thanks to your solidarity and engagement, as well as the relentless commitment of our Bargaining Team, PAT achieved some of the strongest safety language for reopening schools in the country.
Using Our Safety Standards to Stop the Spread
We know that COVID is still spreading in the community, and that it is inevitable that schools will have positive COVID cases. The purpose of our safety language is to do everything we can to make sure that COVID does not spread through our schools.
That is why our agreements on HEPA air purifiers, 6 feet of social distancing, and safety committees are so important. It is crucial that we work at every level to enforce our safety language, and make sure that safety protocols are followed. (You can find our Memorandum of Agreement, Safety Checklists, and PPS and ODE protocols here.)
Last week there were indeed positive COVID cases in several of our schools. This is no surprise: until we reach herd-immunity, we know that unvaccinated people will continue to transmit COVID, and cases will inevitably show up in our schools. Our safety language and protocols are there to prevent the virus from spreading.
In the impacted buildings, PAT members were able to verify that ODE protocols were followed correctly: all students in close contact were notified and quarantined, including those who rode the bus. As we continue to reopen, and as positive cases inevitably arise in our school communities, it is crucial that we stay vigilant.
What Happens When COVID Cases Show Up at School?
Despite rising case numbers in our country and the inevitable disruptions, the Governor’s order requires all middle- and high schools to begin hybrid in-person learning next Monday. PPS is also still bound to follow the RSSL Guidance. According to that guidance, school districts cannot switch from hybrid to remote-only learning unless case counts reach 350 per 100 thousand in the county over a 2-week period (as of Monday, Multnomah County is at 140 cases).
However, ODE protocols require that any unvaccinated person with close contact to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should quarantine for 10-14 days. In our elementary schools, that has meant that one positive case shifts the classroom cohort and the bus cohort to quarantine and remote instruction.
When our Middle Schools and High Schools open next week, one positive case will impact the students in all the in-person classes with the person who tested positive, as well as the transportation cohort. As you can begin to imagine, a few positive cases in a high school or middle school could quickly result in the quarantine of a large portion of the school. Although this protocol will be disruptive, this layer of protection is crucial to prevent the spread of COVID within our school communities.
Fortunately, on April 19th, our 16-year-old students are eligible to be vaccinated. Since this was announced, we have been working with PPS and Multnomah County to create vaccine sites at PPS schools for eligible high school students and PPS families. I am hopeful that this will be a much-needed bridge to connect our most impacted families with vaccines as soon as possible. I will share updates as I receive them.
This pandemic has underscored the fact that schools are a vital part of our community, and that nothing compares to face-to-face connections between educators and students. As educators, we are determined to make this reunion as joyful and purposeful as possible. But with only 22% of Oregonians fully vaccinated, we will not stop advocating for the strongest safety protections. Our students and our communities deserve nothing less.
Before spring break, we sent out a message of solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and condemning anti-Asian hate. As we return to our in-person classrooms with students, we know that this fight against Asian hate is ongoing.
Knowing that Asian families are reaching out, afraid of sending their children to school in the midst of daily hate crimes against Asians in our country, please commit to speaking with your students about this topic over the next week.
Here are resources for supporting your students and addressing AAPI hate as a learning community. Feel free to reach out to Tiffany Koyama Lane at [email protected] and Karen Liao at [email protected], our PAT AAPI Month project leaders, if you would like any more suggestions or support re: resources.
This Friday, April 16th at 3:30 PM, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Month Planning Committee, will be hosting a community healing event for the Asian and Pacific Islander community.
If you are an educator who identifies as Asian, Pacific Islander, mixed, Hapa, multiracial, etc. you are welcome!
You are enough.
There is no gatekeeping--no one will ask "how" you qualify to be in the circle (though you can share how you identify if that feels good).
You are enough.
Join us and spread the word. Here is the zoom link.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, and our PAT Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee and our PAT Racial Equity Committee are once again teaming up to bring events and resources into our classrooms and our community.
If you are interested in helping to plan for AAPI Month or have lessons/resources to share, please contact Tiffany Koyama Lane at [email protected] and Karen Liao at [email protected]. The team will meet next on Friday, April 23rd.
The Portland Association of Teachers Political Action Committee (PAT PAC) is proud to announce its endorsements for the May 18, 2021 school board election.
Herman Greene, in Zone 4, is a long time resident and advocate in North Portland. He is a father of four PPS graduates, and his daughter is a Roosevelt teacher (and PAT Member!) At the core of his work is his passion for equity, unity, and hope for his community. He believes in the power of public education, and at the same time understands the disparities of Black and Brown children and other marginalized and underserved youth in our schools. He will be a powerful and needed voice on the PPS School Board. Learn more here.
Gary Hollands, in Zone 5, is a PPS alumnus and parent. He has deep ties to the North/Northeast Portland community as a business owner and an Executive Director of the Albina Sports Program. He has previously served on the MESD Board and founded Interstate Trucking Academy. Gary is a staunch advocate of CTW, and envisions a school system that supports the whole child – with healthy social environments, with diverse and varied learning opportunities, with safe, welcoming places, and mentorship. Learn more here.
Zone 6--No Recommendation
In this race, incumbent Julia Brim-Edwards is running against newcomers Max Margolis and Libby Glynn. Your PAT PAC board did not feel we could endorse any of these candidates. We remain concerned about the influence of large multinational corporations on Julia Brim-Edwards’ decisions as a School Board director. Max Margolis and Libby Glynn, both strong parent activists, have a good understanding of the problems of the school system, but do not yet have the experience needed to manage a city-wide campaign. Therefore, we are not able to make an endorsement in this race.
Learn more about the PAT PAC and our endorsement process here.
PAT PAC is funded entirely through member contributions, not through dues dollars. Get involved and support great candidates like these: Donate to the PAT PAC here.
It is time to elect your site’s PAT Building Representatives for next school year! Each site is entitled to one Representative for every nine members.
What do Building Reps do? Our union works because Reps do a lot! That’s why it is important to have a full team of Reps to share the load. Here are some of the responsibilities Reps take on:
- come to Representative Assemblies at PAT each month
- hold meetings for PAT members at their site
- educate members about our contract
- advocate to protect member rights and due process
- meet with building administrators to solve problems
- organize members around issues at your site or in the District
Ideally, each school has a diverse team of Reps that includes educators from a variety of grade levels and specialties, one that mirrors the racial and gender diversity of your site. Think about who you believe would be a good representative, and talk to them about running, too.
Our building elections are how we ensure that Reps at each site are trusted and respected leaders. It is crucial that members have a voice in who is representing them, and that everyone knows the process and has access to running and voting. If you’re interested in running to be a Rep, let your current Head Rep know.
-Every site must hold a rep election every year.
-Only PAT members can vote, and only PAT members can run to be a Rep.
Each site should create a ballot and hold their election before the May 19th RA.
For more information (including: How to Hold a Building Rep Election, Instructions for Creating Your Ballot (and the Ballot Template), etc.), please visit www.pdxteachers.org/pat_elections.
If you have questions about returning to in-person learning, check out the Distance Learning Agreements page on the PAT website. We have posted all pertinent agreements, guidance, and resources, from schedules to safety.
You will find:
- MOA On Return To In-Person Instruction (Signed 3-15-21), And Explanatory Materials.
- Additional Guidance Documents For Dual Language Immersion, Student Support Services, and Special Needs Education
- Safety Checklists For Your Classroom Workspace and Building Environment
- PPS Example Schedules
- COVID-19 Exposure Protocols
Article 126.96.36.199 requires that, “A Summative Evaluation Report shall be submitted for contract professional educators at least every other year by May 1st of the Supervised Phase.” This year, PPS and PAT agreed to use a modified evaluation tool because of the COVID-19 teaching and learning conditions. Even though the District has moved to in-person instruction under a Hybrid model, educators are to have all evaluations performed under the modified rubric.
The full timeline for PAT members is on our PAT website, and the observation tool can be found here. If you are having difficulty with your administrator dealing with the completed summative observation, contact your building rep or the PAT UniServ Consultant assigned to your building.
What is a Contract Exception?
A Contract Exception is a process that allows a worksite to apply for an exception to the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). While creating exceptions to our contract language is not encouraged, we recognize that specific worksites may have a specific need for a given year. Find the PAT Contract Exception form here.
Two Types of Contract Exceptions
This year, there are two types of Contract Exceptions:
1. Regular Contract Exceptions
Regular Contract exceptions for NEXT YEAR (assuming we are not in some form of Hybrid instruction at that time) should follow the entire process explained by the Contract Exception form. The deadline is May 7, 2021.
2. Unofficial Exceptions for Terms of the MOA this Spring
These only apply to the MOA ON RETURN TO IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION. You can view the agreement here.
Under usual circumstances, Contract Exceptions must be approved by the PAT Advocacy Committee and the District prior to implementation. During Hybrid Instruction, we will not be able to formally approve Contract Exceptions during this 8-week period. However, if there is agreement among PAT members at your building about a specific need during Hybrid instruction this year, and the idea is supported by the principal, you may, under limited circumstances, make some exceptions.
For Unofficial Exceptions during this time, continue to follow the process laid out in the Contract Exception form. The only change is that the Advocacy Committee will NOT be able to meet and approve Exceptions. Make sure that your members and your principal recognize that this type of agreement is only possible during Hybrid instruction in the 2020/2021 school year. Please contact your UniServ Consultant with any questions.