South Lane School District delays start of school

The South Lane School District (SLSD) Board voted on Monday (Sept. 14) to adopt a revised calendar for the 2020-21 school year, delaying the start of the fall term until Sept. 28.

Officials proposed the week-long delay of the first day of school due to the challenges posed by the compounding impacts of the pandemic and area wildfires.

“We simply need more time to get all of the conferences done,” said Superintendent Yvonne Curtis during the meeting. “We also need time for transportation to get all of the bus routes done.”

Curtis said she had received many messages from district staff about the level of stress caused by the recent fires, including the amount of smoke in a building causing headaches.

“There was quite a bit of feedback from staff on this and it was all very much in favor of delaying,” said board member Taylor Wilhour. “People were saying things like, ‘What a relief’ and ‘Thank you so much.’”

Despite the delay, work with families is expected to continue.

“Our staff still want to go ahead with meetings and conferences and meeting with kids and families as best they can,” said Curtis.

Staff will be connecting with families in school buildings or online and conferences will be held outside only if parents and staff are comfortable with meeting outdoors and the air quality index indicates that Cottage Grove is at 150 or below on the Air Quality Index (AQI) as reported by Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA).

In a letter to families, Curtis reported that all schools and district buildings HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems are running at optimal levels regarding smoke and air flow and will be checked twice a day. This will continue until outdoor AQI is below 150.

Sports activities will not resume until AQI is below 100 as reported by LRAPA.

Curtis said in the board meeting that it is still unclear how the missing week of education will be made up by students.

“That’s one of the things we still have to go back and calculate,” she said. “We also don’t know if the state is going to make some provision, because most of the school districts are delaying the start of the year.”

The SLSD revised school schedule is as follows:

• Sept. 28: Grades K-1 start in hybrid, grades 2-12 start in Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL)

• Oct. 12: Grade 2 starts hybrid 

• Oct. 26: Grade 3 starts hybrid 

• Nov. 2: Grades 4-12 start hybrid

All other dates such as conferences and the beginning and end of terms on the academic calendar will remain the same.

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