COVID-19 Update from OEA

Your union is working for you! OEA is continuing to represent its members in these unprecedented times. Our educational model is constantly changing, sometimes even day-to-day.

For up-t0-date information from OEA, and their responses to the Governor’s and ODE’s mandates, please make sure you are checking your emails from OEA. You may need to go to your “spam” or “junk” mail folders. Our OEA President, John Larson, sent an email on the evening of March 31 with a response to the newest ODE mandate of “Distance Learning for All.”
What is OEA doing to support educators and students during school closures?

OEA leadership and staff are working tirelessly to advocate for both educators and students during this time of uncertainty. That includes being in regular communication with the Governor’s office, the Oregon Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor and Industries to both receive new information from state leaders that we can share with you, and pushing those leaders for clearer guidance aimed at protecting students and educators.

Additionally, our leadership, our staff, and our legal team are working to push districts to make every educator fully whole during the school closures. While we will continue to work at the district-level to try and secure agreements for all public education employees to receive pay during the shutdown, we will also continue to urge the Governor’s office to issue statewide guidance instructing districts to do so. 

How can I help my community during this time?

Our state and our nation are facing an unprecedented challenge. As our elected officials make the difficult decisions about temporarily shutting down public life, we must find ways to work together and offer our support to keep our community healthy and safe. OEA will be coordinating with school districts and with state agencies about ways we can help others. This includes volunteering to distribute meals to students and providing childcare to medical professionals who are working on the frontlines of keeping our community safe during this pandemic.

If you are interested in helping, please fill out this form to let us know. If there is an opportunity for you to serve your community, we will follow up with you with additional details.

I’m also asking you to please share information about your school’s meal service programs with your community, either over social media or over the phone. Many of our students depend on the nutritional services provided by our public schools and ensuring as many families in your local community know how to access those services as possible is critical during this time.

If you are at high-risk from coronavirus, or live with someone else who is at high-risk, please do not volunteer. The CDC has said high-risk individuals include: older individuals (60+); individuals who are immune-compromised; and individuals with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or other conditions. The CDC does not have evidence that indicates pregnant individuals are at higher risk for contracting coronavirus, but out of an abundance of caution we ask that if you are pregnant or live with someone who is pregnant, that you refrain from volunteering.

How will school employees be treated during the closures?

Unfortunately, the governor’s guidance for school closures did not include uniform instructions for the treatment of public school employees. This means that the protocol for how staff may or may not be compensated varies from school district to school district.

OEA leadership and staff are aggressively working with the governor’s office, the Oregon Department of Education, and with district school boards across the state to secure agreements that will hold public school employees harmless during these extended school closures.

Can I be forced to return to work during the school closures?

The short answer is yes.

As school districts work to meet the mandates set forth in Governor Brown’s executive order on the closing of Oregon’s public schools, including the requirement that students continue to receive access to nutritional services, some employees may be called into work.

If you are being pressured to return to work and fall into any high-risk category, or live with someone who falls into a high-risk category, please immediately reach out to your local OEA staff member.

How long will school closures last?

Guidance issued from the office of Governor Kate Brown on Thursday, March 12th, called for a statewide closure of public schools through the end of March. In her guidance, Governor Brown also called on school districts to make plans to continue providing nutritional services to students who depend on their local public school for meals.

Late yesterday, Governor Brown announced a limit on gatherings of over 25 people for four weeks. The specifics of this announcement as it impacts school have not yet been announced, but we will be sure to communicate details as we learn them. We have not heard of any intention to change the timeline for public school closures at this time.

Where can I continue to get up-to-date information?

We will be sending daily email updates to all members, and will continue to gather resources on our website . However, this is a rapidly-changing situation, and while OEA is doing our best to continually share new information with our members we will not always be able to update you immediately after new information becomes available. We encourage everyone to monitor the news for in order to receive the latest updates about coronavirus in Oregon.

Is Oregon going to call a special session to pass any COVID-related legislation?

There are ongoing talks about the need to have a special session to help Oregonians facing this crisis. What will be included in that package has not been determined at this time.  The Governor has been using her broad executive authority and we will continue to fight to say that our members should be kept as safe as possible and that they should be kept whole throughout closures.

The Oregon Legislature has formed the Joint Legislative Committee on COVID-19.  They are convening this Wednesday to discuss the need for unemployment support and making sure our most vulnerable are protected as there are broad work closures in all sectors.  We expect that there will be a short session convened once there is agreement on a path forward.

Has the federal government passed its COVID-relief bill? Will it help me?

The federal government is working on passing a large comprehensive spending bill aimed at providing relief to individuals and business who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on the morning of Saturday, March 16th. However, some Senate leaders have expressed doubts that the bill will pass “as-is” in the U.S. Senate. Because of this uncertainty, it is unclear what assistance the final bill might include, and what the timeline for final passage and implementation might be.

Are educators expected to move their curriculum online?

Guidance issued from the Oregon Department of Education was clear that school districts are not expected to transition to online learning as schools close for health and safety reasons.

However, ODE has not instructed districts that they cannot transition to an online curriculum. They have simply provided criteria that districts must meet should they choose to move online. Those criteria include:All students in the school or district have full access to the learning, the educators, and required materials (including technology).The online learning system effectively supports the district’s different learning and teaching needs, including the ability to provide differentiated instruction as well as one-on-one support for students who need it.The online instructional materials are aligned to Oregon State Standards.Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) identified on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or required supports for a 504 plan must be provided if the district is  operating school online.Support and instruction for emerging bilingual/English Learners must be provided if the district is operating school online.Supports for talented and gifted students must be provided if the district is operating school online.If the district is operating school online, it must ensure equal student access to the instruction and assessments associated with dual credit courses.If the district is operating school online, it must provide training to staff, students, and parents and guardians on how the online system works and the expectations of the district.If the district is operating school online, attendance must be tracked and reported for both students and staff.If the district is operating school online, online systems must be secure and not allow for the release of protected student or staff information.Students must access to school meals if the district is operating school online.Students must have access to school counseling services if the district is operating school online.
What’s the latest guidance from ODE?

The latest guidance from ODE was released on Sunday, March 15th, 2020. You can find the full guidance document here.
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