Students at Portland’s Grant High School walked out on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases around the state continue to rise.
In recent days, six high schools in Portland Public Schools have been moved into temporary distance learning amid staff shortages and rising case numbers. But Grant hasn’t been one of them.
The walkout was aimed at urging the state’s largest district to improve its COVID-19 safety procedures — such as providing more N-95 masks and quicker contact tracing.
Ciela, a Grant High School student, said the school isn’t doing a good job stopping the virus from spreading.
“Honestly I just don’t feel safe at school and they need to do more.”
That said, Ciela was critical of how the walkout was organized and said they were planning to go back inside the school for her next class.
Other students said they don’t hear from the school after someone they’ve been in close contact with, comes down with COVID-19.
Students aren’t alone in their concerns about schools needing better protections. School nurses wrote a letter to Portland school administrators over the weekend, arguing mitigation measures are insufficient and data on student health are not updated quickly enough.
Grant remains open, and two Portland high schools that were in distance learning resumed in-person instruction on Tuesday: Cleveland and McDaniel. Portland Public Schools also plans to reopen Jefferson High School this week.
Students at closed schools are still allowed to participate in sports and arts events, with limited spectators.
There is also limited in-person support for struggling students who attend schools that have moved online.