Portland Public Schools to require COVID-19 vaccination for all employees

By Elizabeth Miller (OPB)
Aug. 18, 2021 4:46 p.m.

Oregon’s largest school district is adding another measure to its back-to-school safety plan: required vaccines for all employees.

Portland Public Schools staff both inside the classroom and at central office will be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine by the time school starts September 1, the district announced Wednesday.

“Parents can rest assured that our school system is exercising every available lever, including the requirement of vaccines and masks and the implementation of other health and safety measures, to protect every PPS student, our employees and our Portland community,” said PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero in a release.


The district said it’s finalizing details on the requirement with the labor unions representing employees.

As Willamette Week reported, Portland’s decision follows similar decisions by two of the country’s largest school districts, Los Angeles and Chicago, to require vaccinations by Oct. 15.

The PPS deadline is a little sooner than that. Employees will be required to submit proof of full vaccination by Aug. 31, “unless they have an approved exemption.” Employees who do not meet that deadline will be required to undergo regular testing until they can prove they’ve been vaccinated.


In Oregon, hospital systems including Kaiser Permanente have also announced a vaccine requirement for employees.

Two of the unions representing PPS employees showed support for the measure in a release shared Wednesday. That includes the Portland Association of Teachers, which represents over 4,500 educators, and the Portland Federation of School Professionals, which represents clerical staff and other positions including physical therapists.

“While the vast majority of PAT members are already vaccinated, this mandate is an important step toward ensuring that everyone in our school communities is vaccinated if they are able to be,” PAT president Elizabeth Thiel said in the release. According to the union’s most recent survey, Thiel said 98% of members have been vaccinated.

“Our first and highest concern is the health and safety of our members, their families, the students we serve and the community in which we work and live. PFSP strongly supports this vaccine requirement for all PPS staff,” said PFSP president Michelle Batten.

The district said it is “finalizing details” to require vaccines for school volunteers and contractors.

This story will be updated.