In his State of the Schools Address, Portland Public School board chair Roberto Rodriguez outlined the difficulties the district has faced since the start of the pandemic.
“If you had told me last November that in 2020, masks, social distancing, and hybrid learning would become words that we used every day, and I would be speaking to you via Zoom in my living room wearing sweatpants, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Rodriguez said.
Over the summer, Rodriguez said the board made a difficult decision to adopt a hybrid plan. He said a challenging part was getting technology devices to nearly 900 students who chose to learn completely remotely.
“It suddenly became our newest and largest school. We initially had problems with technology acquisition and distribution, optimal scheduling of classes, and lapses with communication with families. We have worked to address all of these issues and the remote academy program is running much smoother now,” Rodriguez said.
The district was able to take advantage of outdoor learning and through community partners, was able to secure new supplies to keep students safe.
“All of which joined together to provide 2,000 thermometers and 500 child- size reusable masks.”
Rodriguez said the pandemic is not the only crisis the district is fighting. He said the district is continuing to confront systemic racism.
“Our discipline data shows our non-white students are disciplined more frequently and harshly than their white counterparts. The Portland Public Schools has a great deal of work to do to address these injustices.”
Rodriguez said they are working to hire diverse staff, working on the curriculum to reflect all students, and are working to provide more equity training for staff.
“The Foundation for Portland Public Schools stepped up this year with a new community campaign to raise at least $100,000 to accelerate and expand our school districts equity work,” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez said he is grateful to families for being flexible during these difficult times and said he looks forward to working with city partners to make sure students get a quality education.
You can watch the entire address here on YouTube: