FILE - Oregon School Bus

An Oregon school bus

(The Center Square) — Portland Public Schools plans on teaching students online and in-person this fall as public health guidelines allow, according to recently released details.

In a letter released Saturday, the school district announced that the first two weeks of school will serve as an orientation providing training for teachers, students, and families regarding online learning technologies and public health guidelines.

Teachers will receive training on using all teaching and learning technology and new health protocols.

The current plan will see students returning to schools and learning online in assigned smaller groups by September 14. 

Re-entry models, including school and student schedules will adapt to changing circumstances regarding public health.

The district’s stated goal is to guarantee students receive instruction five days per week, in-person or online.

While wearing required face masks and social distancing, students will attend in-person instruction at least two days a week, according to the letter. 

For pre-K through 8th grade, the district is developing what it calls an “A/B cohort model,” which would reduce classroom overcrowding by dividing in-person instruction in half.

Students would be divided into two cohorts, A and B. While Cohort A would attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, Cohort B would attend school in-person on Thursdays and Fridays. 

Wednesdays would serve as a training day for teachers and staff in addition to providing time for classrooms to be sanitized between instructions.

Elementary students will each be assigned a single homeroom teacher for the school year. A homeroom teacher for middle school students is under consideration, the letter said.

High school students, according to the district’s letter, would take four classes in a semester for eight classes total for the school year. Two days per week would be spent on campus and subjects will be split between semesters. 

Elective classes, athletics, and other extracurricular activities remain in flux, the letter said.

The district also said in the letter that full-time online learning for the school year will move forward should it become necessary according to public health guidelines. 

Full-time online learning will also be available for families who do not want their children to return to school in-person, according to the letter.

The district said it will still be providing meals and educational technology to students.

The district added its plan will account for the needs of “Black, indigenous and students of color” and make the necessary accommodations for special needs students. No specific examples were given.

More opportunities for public comment and concern will be available in the coming weeks, according to the letter. 

The Portland Association of Teachers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Multnomah County remains in Phase 1 reopening guidelines and saw 70 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the Oregon Health Authority reported. The county's case total stands at 2,888 with 72 reported deaths.

Oregon's COVID-19 case total stands at 12,170 with 234 reported deaths.

Portland Public Schools begins instruction for the 2020-21 school year on September 2.

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.