By Xavier Botana, Superintendent, Portland Public Schools
During this frightening and disruptive coronavirus pandemic, the Portland Public Schools is working very hard to make sure one thing does not change for our students: their opportunity to learn.
We hated having to close our schools. We know that’s a hardship for everyone, particularly for our multilingual families and for families struggling to make ends meet. However, closing our schools is necessary to make sure everyone stays healthy. Schools are closed until April 27, and maybe longer if COVID-19 continues to spread.
That means we’re suddenly asking our students, teachers, and parents to do something totally new and different: remote learning from home. We know that kind of learning can’t replace the face-to-face experience of being in school, but we’re working as hard as we can to make sure students have the best learning experience possible under these unexpected circumstances.
We continue working to get technology devices into the hands of families that still don’t have them. We are distributing a total of about 1,300 laptops, tablets, and internet connection hotspots. To increase access to our meal program, we are no longer requiring families to have their children present to pick up meals. Please see our PPS COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information Center on our website (www.portlandschools.org), for more information about food resources for students and also for families.
In addition, families can get answers to their questions and concerns in different languages using our new HelpLine phone, (207) 874-8159. They also can email us in their primary languages at [email protected].
I ask everyone, particularly our multilingual families, to continue to reach out to let us know what you need so we can help you. Communication goes both ways – school to home and home to school.
Social distancing also is very important at this time. Stay physically away from people outside your immediate family. That means no visiting others’ houses or apartments or having your kids play with other kids. Learn more about protecting your family at www.cdc.gov.
This is a very difficult time, but by working together we can make sure our children stay safe and well – and continue to learn.