School district in Portland forced to cancel classes due to staff shortages

FAIRVIEW, Ore. (KGW) — Elementary and middle schools in the Reynolds School District were unexpectedly closed to students on Friday due to staffing shortages. The same closure will repeat next Friday, May 27, the district announced.

Reynolds High School and the Reynolds Learning Academy will remain open, the district said, in order to make sure high school students receive the required instructional time before the end of the year and can continue with planned end-of-year activities.

The Reynolds district serves Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village, North Gresham and East Portland and operates a total of three middle schools and 11 elementary schools.

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Classes were canceled due to a combination of illnesses, staff using vacation days and the ongoing nationwide substitute teacher shortage, according to Steve Padilla, assistant director of public relations for the district.

“We have processes in place to use every available licensed administrator to sub in teaching positions and every available non-licensed administer to fill in for support staff absences,” he wrote in an email. “We work tirelessly to fill positions every day, but at a certain tipping point it becomes a safety issue for students in schools when there are not enough adults to monitor.”

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The cancellations came with little warning. Messages announcing the closure were not published to the district’s social media pages until 4:30 p.m. Thursday. An announcement message on the district’s website also appears to have also been posted on Thursday.

In a letter to district staff dated Thursday, deputy superintendent Christopher Ortiz referred to May 20 and 27 as “pupil-free days” and that staff would still be expected to report to their normal work locations.

“By implementing two pupil-free days at elementary and middle schools, the District foresees being able to maintain in-person learning for all students through the end of the school year on June 15, 2022,” he wrote.

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