Schools in Portland's wealthier neighborhoods reported the highest interest in returning to classrooms for in-person instruction.
Last month, Portland Public Schools surveyed all parents in the district to gauge who would send their children back into school buildings. (The return to elementary schools began last week.) As of March 22, survey results obtained by WW show an uneven enthusiasm.
The eight schools where three-quarters of parents reported they had interest in their kids returning serve less than 50 Black students—combined. At Forest Park Elementary, nestled in Portland's Northwest Hills, 80% of students are expected to return.
The five schools where less than half of parents reported interest in their kids returning represent the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum. They're schools that have diverse communities with a relatively high level of poverty. At Peninsula Elementary, in North Portland, 36% percent of families reported interest in returning—less than half the rate of Forest Park.
Portland Public Schools maintains reopening is about helping the most at-risk kids. "We've said that a healthy majority of our families, including our families of color, are ready to return for hybrid," says spokeswoman Karen Werstein.
But the uneven interest in Portland mirrors national trends. Across the country, Black and Latinx families have been more reluctant to return to schools after their communities have been hardest hit by COVID-19.