More than a month after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown moved schoolteachers to the front of the COVID-19 vaccination line, the debate over when to return to classrooms at Portland Public Schools is nowhere near settled.
As WW reported in this week's paper, questions swirl around the ventilation systems in many of the school district's buildings. State and federal officials set no standards for air quality levels that would allow safe in-class instruction, and PPS hasn't released air quality data from its buildings.
Yet the preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that reopening schools does not trigger wider COVID-19 outbreaks. And Portland-area parents and child welfare advocates warn that another spring away from classes could do untold harm to students.
It's hard to think of another aspect of the pandemic with such unsettled science and intense acrimony. Actually, it's easy to think of exactly one: restaurants.
Similar debates erupted last year every time Brown ordered restaurants closed to slow the spread of the virus. But dining establishments have a powerful industry lobby on their side, the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, which was willing to go to court to challenge the governor's executive orders. (Meanwhile, the very idea of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler meeting for a drink at a McMenamins was enough to spark a street confrontation that ended with the mayor pepper-spraying a constituent in the face.)
Kim McGair and Leslie Bienen decided moms needed their own lobby. So they founded one: a group called ED300, after the 300 days students have been away from the classroom.
In this interview, WW asks: Should restaurants be open while schools remain closed?