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As COVID-19 Diagnoses Climb, Portland Schools Outline Tentative Plan

<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>
<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>

UPDATE (11:45 a.m. PT) Portland Public Schools leaders said Saturday they are still working out what the beginning of the school year will look like. The current plan includes some in-person learning, with physical distancing and other precautions in place.

But school officials noted that the plan could change.

“It is important that our students, families, and employees understand that we will only reopen school buildings if public health experts say it is safe to do so,” the school district said in an update. “If we are not able to safely open school buildings, all teaching and learning for every student will take place virtually/online until it is safe to return to school in-person.”

Under the primary plan currently in use by the district, the first two weeks of the school year, Sept. 2-11, would be conducted virtually. During that time, teachers would reach out to students directly, families would have opportunities to become familiar with the technology their students will use, and teachers would receive training that includes ensuring every student can access online learning.

Students would to return to school for both in-person and small-group online learning starting Sept. 14.

The district said the plans they've drawn up are “flexible,” and school leaders anticipate making changes related to the ongoing pandemic. 

For pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students, the district said, it is developing a plan where students would be split up into different “cohorts,” some attending school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, others attending school Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would be spent sanitizing classrooms between the two groups, and for teachers and staff to continue training and professional development.

“Our goal is to ensure that student learning is taking place five days per week, regardless of location,” PPS wrote in its online letter to families and staff. “As we balance physical distancing requirements (6 feet apart) with our desire to maximize in-person instruction, our current modeling suggests that students could be in their school buildings at least two days a week.”

For high school students, PPS said it is considering a model in which students would take four classes per semester for a total of eight classes for the entire school year. That schedule would allow students to complete a yearlong course in one semester, the district said.

“For example, a student may have English in the Fall semester and History in the Spring semester. We believe that allowing students to focus on fewer classes will help them be more successful in an environment that is, at least for part of the year, a hybrid model of in-person and online learning,” PPS said of the plan.

High school students would also use a similar “cohort” model to pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students in order to reduce class sizes, spending only two days per week on campus. The district said it will share information about elective classes, athletics and other extracurricular activities in the future.

The school district also said it is reviewing full-time online school options for families who do not want their children to attend in-person classes.

Oregon spike in COVID-19 diagnoses continues

The Oregon Health Authority has reported another day of dramatic COVID-19 case increases. 

On Sunday, state officials reported 332 new confirmed and presumptive cases, and two deaths 

Since the pandemic was first detected in Oregon, 12,710 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Of those, 234 have died.

As of Friday, 208 people were hospitalized with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Oregon, including 30 who are on ventilators. The coronavirus has led to the hospitalization of 1,180 people statewide over the course of the pandemic.

Clark County diagnoses continue to climb

Health officials in Clark County, Washington, Friday reported 38 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, and two new deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, 1,166 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the county, and 32 have died. 

The most recent people to die of the virus were a woman in her 50s with underlying medical conditions and a man in his 80s whose underlying medical conditions have not yet been determined.

The latest available data from the Washington Department of Health shows 38,581 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the state and 1,409 are known to have died of it. 

 

 

 

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting