Salem-Keizer Public Schools responds to COVID-19 outbreak

SKPS School district Salem-Keizer

Salem-Keizer Public Schools does not have any confirmed coronavirus cases.

The district is taking some preventative precautions, including additional cleaning measures in schools and on buses, and providing resources on when to go to school and when to see a doctor.  

Concerning an employee who recently returned from a trip to Italy, district communications director Lillian Govus said the individual does not have any signs of illness and was cleared by the Oregon Health Authority to return to work.

She was asked why the employee didn’t just work from home, to which she said, “If we start making determinations against (the county and state agencies’) guidance, it creates opportunities where we’re not letting industry professionals guide that response.”

Govus said it’s important they know where to draw the line. For example, she said the district has had some parents requesting to not send their children to schools with “Chinese kids.” 

“Do we do that to ease their fears?” she said.

Attendance rates in the district don’t seem to be affected by news of the virus. Until Monday, Govus said attendance rates were actually slightly higher than this same time last year. 

On Monday, attendance rates did slightly drop, she said, but district officials are unsure how many were excused versus unexcused. Keeping a child home while healthy counts as an unexcused absence.

Govus said there also is research that suggests keeping kids home from school reduces their safety if they need to access mental health supports, food, medical care for special needs and more.