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Portland area school districts weigh variables, discuss return to in-person plans

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    PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) — Oregon school districts are ironing out plans for if, when, and how to return to in-person learning.

Lake Oswego School District plans to get Kindergarteners back in the classroom in just over three weeks in a hybrid model, followed by other elementary grade levels the rest of February.

No set plan for Portland Public Schools.

“I understand and acknowledge that distance learning has been difficult. There are many elements and conditions required, however, to fully reopen our schools,” Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said in a board meeting Tuesday night.

Oregon’s governor just announced vaccines for educators starting end of January, but now Guerrero says the trick will be figuring out how to administer them to their more than 8,500 employees.

He also mentioned the need for frequent and free COVID testing for students and staff and the logistical difficulty of social distancing.

Parents pushing for their kids to get back say the benefits outweigh the risks when known school transmission has been low.

“We are now making decisions with life-long impact on students, on their lives, and we’re making them based on fear, not science. I beg you to make science-based decisions,” PPS parent Kim McGair said during the meeting.

Lake Oswego families held a back-to-school car parade to show their support for their district’s plans to return.

“We think that it has been well thought out and vetted. And this will happen, this can really happen, and it can happen safely,” LOSD parent Britney Colton said.

The LOSD Education Association recently pushed back on the district’s plans, calling them callous and dangerous, expressing fear for the health of themselves and their families.

Other unions in the state recently wrote a letter to the governor asking for more resources before going back in-person.

“We’ve worked with the Department of Education, with local public health partners to create a plan that we believe can limit the risk of COVID-19,” LOSD Superintendent Dr. Lora de la Cruz said.

Portland Public Schools and other districts have submitted suggested changes to the Department of Education’s health guidelines, with updates from the state expected Jan. 19.

PPS will update its plans by the end of the semester, which is the end of this month.

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CNN Newsource

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