The Portland Association of Teachers went on strike Wednesday, leaving 45,000 students without school.
All 81 schools in the city are now closed.
The union is demanding “sustainable workloads” and higher salaries.
According to the Washington Post, the district and the union remain approximately $200 million apart in negotiations over a new three-year contract. The previous contract expired in June.
“Portland Public Schools said it doesn’t have the money to meet the union’s demands. Oregon lawmakers in June approved a record $10.2 billion K-12 budget for the next two years, but school district representatives said that wasn’t enough,” USA Today reports.
The district was given notice ten days before the strike.
“Our kids deserve more than teachers that are absolutely exhausted and at the end of their ropes,” said Sarah Trapido, a special education teacher at Kellogg Middle School who was picketing Wednesday morning, according to the USA Today report.
There are no classes, including online instruction, while the strike is ongoing.
Portland Public Schools Chief of Staff Jonathan Garcia wrote in a notice to families in the district, “As we have previously shared, if teachers strike, Portland Public Schools will have to close all schools. That will mean no in-person class or online instruction, although we have provided limited resources to support learning. To support learning from home, we will send all K-2 families a survey to assess your technological needs, and we will ensure any student who needs a device has access to one.”
Garcia added, “We will also provide grab and go meals for free for all kids, ages 1-18, during the strike. We are still finalizing pick-up locations and times. Detailed information including locations and pick up times will be available on our site when the plans are confirmed.”
The statement said that the district is unsure if the strike will extend the school year, as they are not sure how long it will go on.
“Finally, many families have asked if a strike will extend our school year,” Garcia wrote. “Unfortunately, we are not able to know yet. We will need to consider the length of a strike against state requirements regarding student instruction time, inclement weather days, and other factors. Once negotiations are complete and a date has been selected to reopen schools, we will provide you with additional information.”