By Emily Scarvie
(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, Dec. 1 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.
The Oregon Health Authority is working on a new way for people to show proof of vaccination through their phones. Those who participate would submit their information to get vaccine records and would then receive a smart health card code that could be used to get into venues or restaurants that require it. California and Washington already have programs like this.
Rachael Banks, OHA’s public health director, said the voluntary program will likely launch in March. While Oregon doesn’t require people to show proof of vaccination to do things, some businesses still do.
Amid increased need in classrooms, the Portland Association of Teachers has proposed to Portland Public Schools that one day per week be changed to an asynchronous day, meaning students would complete school work remotely instead of having in-person classes.
On asynchronous days, teachers would be available to help students for three hours and would spend the other three hours planning, grading student work and adapting lesson plans.
PAT’s proposal includes 13 adjustments to the current agreement between the district and teachers union. Some of the other adjustments include limiting staff meetings, shifting teacher evaluations, eliminating “busy-work” from some educator meetings and a day for professional development.
Read the full proposal here.
On Tuesday, the grace period for all Oregon state employees to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive an exemption officially ended and according to the Department of Administrative Services, 99 state workers were fired for not getting vaccinated. Of the 40,000 state workers in Oregon, 84.7% got vaccinated and 12.2% got religious or medical exemptions.
The Department of Agriculture, which was previously lagging behind other state departments in vaccinations, reported that only 10 people were placed on administrative leave for not receiving the shot. The Oregon Department of Corrections, which also initially reported low numbers, said they don’t yet have the final number of those who are being let go.
In an effort to prevent evictions as the state’s rental assistance program runs out of funding, Gov. Kate Brown has called the Oregon Legislature into a special session on Dec. 13. According to Brown, the federal funding will be “nearly spent” on Wednesday.
Oregon was allocated $289 million in federal rental assistance funds by the U.S. Department of Treasury to help renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the governor’s office, nearly $150 million of that funding had been allocated to over 22,000 Oregon households as of last week. Oregon Housing and Community Services determined that all remaining federal funds will have been requested by Wednesday.
During the special session, Brown is set to propose the following framework to prevent evictions:
- Extend eviction safe harbor protections for each individual who has applied for rental assistance.
- Ensure landlords are paid in full for the rent they are owed.
- Provide up to $90 million in additional rental assistance to ensure low-income tenants access through the winter.
- Provide $100 million to transition from large-scale pandemic-related emergency rental assistance to long-term, locally-delivered eviction prevention services.