Portland Public Schools socks away $20 million in reserves, rural teachers call in sick after student tests positive for COVID: The week in education

Portland Public Schools spent some $8 million to provide Chromebooks for all of its students in the spring and another $10 million on coronavirus-related expenses so far this school year.

Still, the state’s largest district began this school year with more money than it anticipated through a mix of austerity measures and federal grants. And it’s putting away about $20 million as district accountants expect Gov. Kate Brown’s 2021-23 biennium budget may include cuts to state education funding.

The district doesn’t anticipate allowing students back into classrooms until at least late January. Because so many of Portland Public Schools’ employees live in Washington and Clackamas counties, the entire metro area will need to see a consistent — and drastic decline — in the number of new coronavirus cases health officials identify on a weekly basis.

Here are some of the other major education stories from this week:

Coronavirus update:

The Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday that five new cases of coronavirus were detected at schools offering in-person learning the previous week. Three of those cases were students, two alone in the Coos Bay district. Another two cases were tied to school staff. The health authority’s findings represent a 75% drop in overall cases tied to schools, although infections overall reached record levels in Oregon this week — the state surpassed 500 identified cases in a single day Friday.

From the education reporter’s inbox:

The North Clackamas School District this week announced its students will not return to classrooms until at least mid-February. The school board voted to extend the district’s distance learning mandate through Feb. 9. The announcement puts the district, which enrolls students from Milwaukie to Johnson City and Oak Grove, in line with its peers in Portland and Beaverton, which will also keep students learning at home until 2021.

A Portland-area teenager took silver in the Olympics last month — the International Mathematical Olympiad, to be exact. Gopal Krishna Goel, who is home schooled, helped Team USA take bronze overall. Two years ago, Goel won a gold medal in the international physics competition.

Portland Public Schools is opening applications for meal deliveries as the district cuts on-site service at Sacajawea, Clarendon Elementary and Harriet Tubman Middle School. Officials said those sites saw low turnout for the service. The district will also open meal sites from 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting Nov. 2.

Education stories from the Portland area:

The Lake Oswego school board passed two resolutions pressing for a return to classroom learning earlier rather than later. One of those measures urged Gov. Kate Brown to prioritize students disproportionately impacted by school closures. The other pressed Superintendent Lora de la Cruz to draft plans to allow in-person instruction for elementary schoolers, according to a release from the district.

Meanwhile, the West Linn-Wilsonville school board voted against a resolution urging Brown to reopen schools. The measure, which alleged the governor is basing school reopening guidelines on political pressure, was introduced by board members Dylan Hydes and