As Portland Public Schools prepares to welcome students back to school for full-time in-person instruction on September 1, they, along with the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) and the Portland Federation of School Professionals (PFSP), agree with and support requiring all employees — including classroom teachers, school-based employees, and central office staff — to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
On August 12, Governor Kate Brown made clear that vaccine mandates for public school employees are local school superintendent decisions. “Vaccinations against COVID-19 are the most effective way to protect children, youth and adults,” said Guadalupe Guerrero, Superintendent of Portland Public Schools. “Parents can rest assured that our school system is exercising every available lever, including the requirement of vaccines and masks and the implementation of other health and safety measures, to protect every PPS student, our employees and our Portland community.”
PPS and its labor union partners are currently outlining the details of this vaccine requirement for the 2021-2022 school year. Requirements will include regular COVID testing for employees who are unable to be vaccinated for personal health reasons.
“We know that vaccinations are the first line of defense, and the most important of the many measures we can take to keep our students, school communities and our broader community safe,” said Board of Education Chair, Michelle DePass. “PPS has adjusted throughout the dynamic and ever-changing pandemic, and this mandate is the right step to take now.”
All PPS employees will be required to submit proof of full vaccination by August 31, unless they have an approved exemption. PPS employees who do not provide proof of vaccination by August 31 will be required to be tested regularly until proof of vaccination is submitted.
“Vaccination is our most powerful tool to get our students back to in-person learning, and restore the interaction and personal connection that is such a crucial part of learning,” said Elizabeth Thiel, President of the Portland Association of Teachers. “While the vast majority of PAT members are already vaccinated, this mandate is an important step toward ensuring that everyone in our school communities is vaccinated, if they are able to be.”
“Our first and highest concern is the health and safety of our members, their families, the students we serve and the community in which we work and live. PFSP strongly supports this vaccine requirement for all PPS staff,” said Michelle Batten, President of the Portland Federation of School Professionals.
Portland Public Schools is also finalizing details on vaccine requirements for school volunteers and contractors.
To learn more about the district’s health and safety measures against COVID-19, please visit the PPS 2021-22 Back to School site. For more information about getting vaccinated, please visit our Vaccinations Resources page.
Source: Portland Public Schools