Portland — In a stunning reversal of stance, Portland Public Schools is now allowing teams to participate in athletics while their school is in a virtual learning period, a complete 180 from their previous stance last Friday that schools that convert to virtual learning cannot participate in athletics during that period. The information translates as a massive victory for athletes in Portland and potentially a ripple effect statewide. On Sunday, EOG published a story about Cleveland’s basketball program, who had appeared on Saturday at the PIL Showcase in protest of PPS decision to not allow them to play despite being able to meet COVID protocols like normal. The team donned their school apparel and watched their fellow PIL schools play in the showcase, showing solidarity for the entire league. With Roosevelt and McDaniel also being shut down, the backlash intensified from athletes and coaches in the district. On Tuesday, it was Cleveland who started celebrating by announcing the great news.
EOG has confirmed with sources at Cleveland that the news is in fact accurate districtwide, opening the flood gates to what possibilities there are for school districts currently affected by virtual learning. During their school board meeting on Tuesday, PPS provided a statement to the board regarding sports: “Last week, when we began to make the decision to shift schools into distance learning, we also made the decision to pause extra-curricular activities to properly assess system capacity and safety,” the district wrote. “After careful consideration and preparation, we are reinstituting (sic) a number of limited in-person activities at campuses of schools in temporary distance learning.”
On Monday, Ashland announced they were shutting down everything until January 31st, Parkrose School District announced a shutdown over the weekend, Forest Grove announced a pause Monday afternoon, and all followed by Tigard and Tualatin shutting down athletics until January 24th being announced late Tuesday morning. All of the transitions have been primarily caused by staffing shortages due to COVID or mass call-ins, putting districts in difficult spots with keeping students in the classroom. According to sources in Salem-Keizer, students have been told to prepare for a virtual learning transition in the near future, giving thinking to what the district might do in regard to athletics with PPS and their latest reversal. Despite days of being blocked from an explanation by Regional Superintendent Margaret Calvert, PPS felt the pressure and finally gave in on the matter, marking victory for athletes, coaches, and parents in the war over virtual learning shutting down athletics. In a statement, the Cleveland basketball program said, “We are back! Mahalo to all that advocated to let us play. We couldn’t have done it without the support of players, parents, friends, and the community!”