School’s out, distance learning takes center stage

SKPS School district Salem-KeizerAfter weeks of speculation, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced on Wednesday, April 8 that all Oregon schools would be shutting down for the remainder of the year due to the spread of COVID-19.

“The best thing we can do for the health of our children, and thousands of educators across the state, is to give everyone certainty by announcing the decision today to close in-person classes for the remainder of the school year. School and remote learning will continue as best we can using remote means,” said Brown during a press conference.

Brown also gave a heartfelt message to the parents of all Oregon students

“We have your kids, and every Oregon student, at the forefront of every decision we make about school. Their health, happiness and safety is a top priority,” Brown said.

The Salem-Keizer School District will have their plan for distant learning in place on Monday, April 13.

Hours after the announcement, SKSD superintendent Christy Perry sent an email to students and families and sent her condolences to the nearly 3,000 seniors in the district.

“For the Class of 2020 – we see you. There is no world in which this is fair. We will not give up on finding creative ways to honor you and restore every amount of normalcy that we can,” Perry said.

Decisions have yet to be made on special events like graduation ceremonies or prom, however, all seniors that were passing courses as of March 13 will receive a pass grade and full credits for those courses — seniors missing their final two months of school are losing less that two percent of their total K-12 education.

“I refuse to punish students because they couldn’t attend classes to finish coursework,” Brown said.

For those seniors who don’t have enough credits as of March 13, the district will be creating individualized distance learning schedules to help students earn credits through the end of the school year to stay on track with the Class of 2020.

For the remainder of the school closure, the district will be moving to a pass, no grade system for all high school students.

Students K-8 will also be doing distance learning on April 13, but Perry said that the district “does not expect it to look like the school days we had only a handful of weeks ago.”

However, Perry also shared that the priority of the district at this moment are the high school students, not just the seniors.

“We know this is unlike anything we as educators, parents or students have ever seen before. Since this emergency closure began, our priority has been and will continue to be our high school students. Our educators and administrators are committed to being problem-solvers and partners for our high schoolers so their paths to graduation are not interrupted by this pandemic,” Perry said. “We’re grateful to our partners in neighboring districts, at the state and in higher education for taking extraordinary measures to help us provide individualized and unique learning opportunities.