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



Know Your Contract: Moving Classrooms After the Start of the Year

This fall, some educators may have been asked to switch rooms in order to accommodate physical distancing for students. If you have been asked to move classrooms, Article 19 Contract language applies:

19.3.3 Administrator-directed moves that occur after the school year has started, or if the professional educator is directed to move classrooms two school years in a row, shall be compensated by the District for each hour worked: 

a. Up to four (4) hours to pack and move personally-owned materials; and 

b. Up to an additional four (4) hours to move and unpack materials in the new classroom.

Know Your Contract: Upcoming Deadlines

The PAT Advocacy Committee would like to highlight several important dates that are quickly approaching:

  • October 31-   Proof of Coursework-  Art. “In order to receive a salary adjustment retroactive to the beginning of the current school year, a professional educator must, by October 31st, provide the Human Resources Department with proof of completion of coursework.”
  • 60 days from start of employment-   Proof of Experience Credit-  Art.  “Such salary adjustments [based on previous experience] will not be retroactive, except that experience verified within sixty (60) days of the start of employment shall be retroactive to the first day of employment.”
  • 2nd Monday in October (October 11)-   Study Leave – Spring Semester-   Art.  “Such applications for study leave for spring semester must be filed by the second Monday in October preceding the spring semester.”

You find the complete contract on our website.

COVID-19 Safety Committees

Similar to last year, each and every school or site should have a Safety Committee that includes 1 or 2 PAT members, selected by the PAT-represented staff at your site. The PAT bargaining team made sure that the language on Safety Committees was updated and renewed in the Tentative COVID-19 Safety Agreement that members will be voting on this week. If your staff has not already done so, please select 2 PAT members to serve on this important committee. 

These committees are standing bodies of the building, but are specifically focused on identifying and resolving any problems pertaining to COVID-19 safety protocols and process, as enshrined in the PAT-PPS COVID-19 Safety LOA and all of the policies/standard operating procedures that the District has developed to keep students and staff safe. 

Each Safety Committee should be touring the building to inspect each space where instruction and support with students will be provided. If you are on the Safety Committee, please make sure your colleagues know that you are serving in this role and work with PAT Building Reps if you need support in getting your administrator to resolve any safety problems or violations of the COVID-19 Safety LOA pertaining to safety. 

And for all other educators, make sure you know who is on your building’s Safety Committee so that you can go to them if you have any issues or problems pertaining to safety, at least to identify the issue so they can work on getting it resolved. 

Safety Committees should have completed a walkthrough of your site by September 7, 2021, using this document to guide their inspection. (Please make a copy of the document for your own use.) Please make sure to review and use this document on your walkthrough and as an overall guide. 

Lastly, you can find helpful resources for the Safety Committee here on the PAT’s website. Please also review PPS’s Q & A document on Health and Safety

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.

The OHA site says that screening is not recommended for vaccinated K-12 staff because the risk of COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals is very low. However, the sign up form does not ask for your vaccination status. 

Participation is voluntary, and K-12 staff can opt-out at any time. All testing will be mailed directly to the homes of K-12 staff and will be confidential. The COVID-19 test will be performed at home by gently swabbing just inside the nose. The swab is then returned to the laboratory by mail and results are returned to participants within days.

To participate in this staff screening project, please complete the enrollment form above. Following enrollment, you will be sent an email by an OHA laboratory partner to complete the registration process.

This testing will be offered through the end of the 2021-2022 academic year or until funding is exhausted.

Learn more here.

Upcoming Events

Rep Assembly and Committee Meetings

  • September 8th, 4:30-5:30 PM, Rep Assembly
  • September 8th, 5:30 PM-7:00PM All Member Meeting

  • September 15th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Bargaining Committee
  • September 15th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Instructional and Professional Development Committee

  • September 22nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Legislative Committee
  • September 22nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Membership Committee
  • September 22nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Racial Equity Committee

  • 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. Please register here to get a meeting link.

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