Below, find the most recent message sent out by the district to all families regarding the ongoing school closure and coronavirus (COVID-19) response. Tabbed along the left, you’ll find an archive of all messages related to this issue.

Silver Falls families,

Today we learned our students will not return to schools this school year. Governor Brown extended the closure of school buildings through the end of the school year, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community well.

Additionally, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released the statewide guidance for graduating seniors of the Class of 2020. Here are the main points:

  • All seniors are still expected to complete 24 credits to graduate using the Oregon Diploma subject requirements.
  • All grades for Semester 2 will now be Pass/Incomplete and will not be calculated into the final GPA.
  • If seniors were passing their classes (A-D) on March 13, they will receive a P for the semester and the remainder of our school closure for seniors will be focused on providing supports for post-secondary opportunities, such as assistance with the FAFSA application for financial aid, college/internship applications, scholarship applications, and other supports.
  • If seniors had an F on March 13, their teachers will connect with them to determine an individualized plan to grade/enter/complete missing assignments or work on content that was taught prior to March 13 until students meet proficiency on those topics. Once they pass, they will also receive post-secondary opportunity supports.
  • All Essential Skills, Statewide testing, and Personalized Learning Requirements (i.e. Career-Related Learning Experiences, Resume, Plan and Profile) are suspended.

The Department of Education announced that guidance related to students in grades 9 – 11 is forthcoming. We will share this information when we receive it.

The news that our schools will be closed for in-person learning for the remainder of the year strikes at the heart of every educator I know.  We miss our students; yet, we are resilient. We will get through this together.  I say this with 100% confidence, because I’ve seen our professional educators rise to the occasion with every new challenge.  Our support staff have stepped up in a thousand different ways, always with a positive can-do attitude and generosity to pitch in wherever and however they are needed.  Our school and district leaders have worked tirelessly to find solutions for every challenge.  Everyone on the Silver Falls School District team deserves praise and appreciation.

Perhaps most importantly, we want to say thank you to all the parents and families of our students. Thank you for reading all the information coming from your school and teachers, and for your patience as we adapt and pivot in response to new information.

You will often find yourself in the role of Learning Coach over the next two months, so we are working hard to provide you with the support you’ll need as well.  In the next few days, you’ll receive a “Parent’s Handbook” that will detail things like office hours for teachers, grading guidance, and suggested student schedules. Watch for more info from your schools’ principal in the next week.

Be well and stay safe!

Paul Peterson
Superintendent

Good evening, Silver Falls Families.

As we move forward toward the Department of Education’s guidance for Distance Learning for All, the district’s new site housing Supplementary Education and Learning Supports (SEALS) is now online at https://seals.silverfallsschools.org. There, families can find day-by-day supports across grades and subject areas, with content appropriate for most every child in our district. Please be patient with us as we roll this website out to full functionality. Teachers and support staff are working as fast as they can to provide as full a breadth and depth of content as possible, but there remain some holes that we will continue to fill in the coming days.

This content will also be made available in printed form for families who lack adequate access to the technology necessary for fully-online use. Details on these printed packets will be released in the next several days.

Note that these SEALS remain optional, and are not the district’s complete Distance Learning plan. They will, however, serve as a foundational element to that plan, and we look forward to your feedback as you utilize them in your homes.

We also wanted to make you aware that distribution of Chromebooks for students who need those devices for schoolwork at home will occur on Monday the 13th at your child’s school. More information on that process will be available soon.

Thank you, and have a safe and healthy week.

Downloadable Spanish Version of this Update

Good Evening Silver Falls Families,

We hope this message finds you well, and experiencing some peaceful moments in some not so peaceful days.  As Spring Break comes to a close, we want to first and foremost encourage you to prioritize taking care of yourselves and your families.  We recognize the tremendous impact this disruption is having on all aspects of our family, community, and professional lives.  We are all in this together and doing the best we can attempting to navigate significant changes in our daily lives.  None of us are likely to meet our “normal” expectations and that is okay.  There is nothing normal about this.

We sincerely hope to return to normal soon, but in the meantime, Silver Falls School District is working diligently to serve our community.

Governor Brown’s Executive Order requires schools to:

  • Continue food service support
  • Provide childcare for emergency workers, medical staff, first responders, and essential staff
  • Provide Supplementary Education and Learning Supports (SEALS)

Continue Food Service for Kids

We have provided grab and go lunches for students aged 1 to 18 across our district since March 16th. We hope to transition to a food delivery option either to homes or at designated sites around the community to increase the access for parents and students. We will soon send a survey to parents to assess this need.

If you are in need of additional food support, or know of a family who is, please leave a message at (503) 873-5303, ext. 0. We will work with area service providers who are able to provide some additional support for families.

Emergency Childcare

SFSD has been working with county and community partners preparing to offer this service at Mark Twain Elementary School for children of healthcare workers.  We hope to be able to begin serving 5-12 year-old children beginning April 6th.  At this time, we will not be able to serve children Birth – age 4 as our facilities are not licensed to do so, but we do have some community partners who we can point you to if you need this service.  If you are a healthcare worker who needs this support, please send a message to feedback@silverfalls.k12.or.us and someone will contact you when we have more details to share.

Provide Supplementary Education and Learning Supports (SEALS)

Our current orders are to provide supplementary supports only — we are prohibited from continuing regular classes in any form. While we will provide these supports both online and in print, this is not online school or remote learning. The supplemental supports are not designed to replace instruction, are not graded, do not impact course placements or transcripts, and are only intended to provide connection and structure for families as they navigate helping students practice skills and stay engaged intellectually during the closure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will we reopen on April 29th or are we out for the year?

We plan to reopen on April 29th unless we are ordered by the Governor or the Oregon Department of Education to remain closed. If we receive any  order that impacts the planned reopening of schools, we will notify you immediately.

I’ve heard other districts are moving to online schooling.  Is SFSD exploring that?

We are exploring every option, but there is no plan to proceed with online schooling. The current mandate lays out requirements districts must meet in order to open online.  Those requirements prohibit us and most other districts from doing that.  Many districts in other states who made this jump have since discontinued. (That said, this mandate could change.)

While access to the internet and devices is only one of the listed requirements for online learning, we do understand that the landscape of access and devices has changed significantly in our district in the past two weeks.  Many of our families are now trying to work from home and share devices and connections. Also, many of our families are now facing financial hardships and stressors that would not allow them to support their students in online learning.

What SEALS will SFSD be providing?

Currently we have SEALS posted here: https://silverfallsschools.org/school-closure-learning-resources/

These were created by educators across our region, but not our own teachers.  We are thrilled to welcome our teachers back (virtually) on Monday the 30th to help us with this work. Our teachers will spend Monday connecting with students and figuring out how to maintain our school communities.  Tuesday they will learn best practices for remote learning.  Wednesday they will dive into creating SEALS with their grade level teams.  The SEALS will be daily learning plans, posted online and delivered in hard copy for those who need that service. These activities will be developed by our teachers and designed to be done at home. Some may be online, others may be paper and pencil, and still others may be more physical in nature. These activities will span the range of the subjects students would normally be taught in school.

I am getting assignments and resources and suggestions thrown at me from every direction.  How do I know what I should be doing with my student?

We will be doing our very best to streamline this for you as you try to navigate all of the complexities of this quarantine for your family.  Beginning April 6th, you will have one daily learning plan for each of your students and your student will have some connection with their teacher (AG or homeroom) and their school.  Your students should not be trying to keep up on assignments or workflow related to regular instruction or coursework unless they are in a college or AP class.  Schools are closed and nothing happening during the closure is new instruction or impacting grades or transcripts.

As you navigate trying to support your students at home during this closure, we encourage everyone to consider this perspective.  https://www.heatheranneworld.com/post/homeschooling-is-not-the-same-as-crisis-schooling-advice-during-coronavirus-covid-19-shut-downs 

Aren’t our kids getting farther behind every day?

No.  They are getting behind where we expected them to be and that is weighing on everyone.  Since most schools in the country are closed, however, they are not falling behind other students in the state or nation.  We will not fix this problem with SEALS or online learning. We will fix this problem in two ways:

  1. Graduation requirements and college entrance requirements are being adjusted to account for the impact of the closure. We are hoping to have specific details on that this week.
  2. Master Schedules which dictate instructional minutes and instructional mapping will be adjusted both for the remainder of this year and next year to recover the instruction lost during the closure.  This is one of the things our teachers will be working on in the coming weeks. 

What does this mean for my child who is on an IEP or has a 504 plan?

In the weeks following spring break, you will receive a phone call or email from your child’s case manager to discuss with you how to ensure that your child has an equal opportunity to access the “supplemental education” that will be provided to all students.  The case manager will also discuss with you how the needs identified in your child’s IEP and/or 504 plan will be addressed.  As you are undoubtedly aware, the landscape is changing rapidly.  We will do our best to keep in touch with you and inform you of any updates or clarifications regarding the provisions of educational services and how the District will work to address your child’s special education needs. Additional parent information can be found in a joint statement/document developed by FACT of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Education at:  https://www.oregon.gov/ode/students-and-family/SpecialEducation/SpEdResources/Documents/1.%20Parent%20and%20Family%20COVID-19%20Guidance.pdf

Are we going to have kids in school all summer?

This is very unlikely.  Under normal circumstances we can extend the year up to 4 days with board approval, but the school year effectively restarts on July 1. There is nothing normal about this, so there may be some state direction to either stay closed or extend, but we haven’t had any direction of that kind yet.

Will next school year be longer?

Not likely.  Missed instruction will need to be made up within our existing calendars through new planning by our teachers.

Can I enroll my student in an Oregon public or Charter online school?

No.  Oregon’s online virtual charter schools are not allowed to enroll new students at this time.  While they have now been given some flexibility to continue instruction, they are not able to take any new students.

What about Senior Projects and Essential Skills?

We believe these requirements will be waived for current seniors.  We hope to have details on that this week.

What about State Testing?

State testing has been cancelled for this school year regardless of our return date.

What about graduation and promotion ceremonies? Will they occur or be rescheduled or canceled?

We do not know at this time. It will all depend on the governor’s orders and whether the spread of this virus can be slowed or contained. We will follow all state guidance as we plan for these events.

Are SAT and ACT tests still required to get into college?

Students applying for freshman admission to any of Oregon’s seven public universities and Oregon Health & Science University will not have to submit SAT or ACT scores, starting with fall term 2021, according to officials.  (link to source)

Are students going to have to repeat this year’s grade level?

No. We will be adjusting our work at the beginning of next year in all grades to make sure we can provide the supports necessary for your students to receive the grade level content, skills, and standards they need by the end of next year.

What about forecasting/scheduling classes for next year?

If we are able to return to buildings on April 29th, we will run our forecasting process then.  If we get an order to close for the remainder of the year, we will run the process in combination with online, mail, and drop-off sites.

What about Kindergarten round ups?

These are canceled due to the school closure. We are working on alternate ways of registering and will communicate as soon as possible.

If I want to follow these state directives myself, how would I do that?

Our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Colt Gill, has a very comprehensive FAQ that is updated multiple times a day and he sends out updates every few days.  You can visit his site and or subscribe to his email here: https://www.oregon.gov/ode/students-and-family/healthsafety/Pages/COVID19.aspx

The uncertainty is unsettling for all of us, but we are fully committed to serving our students, families, and community in these uncharted times. Please know that we are working hard to adapt and to serve each of you under these new conditions.

As always, we welcome your questions and feedback at feedback@silverfalls.k12.or.us.

A Letter from Superintendent Peterson

COVID 19 Letter from Paul Peterson Spanish 2020

Dear Silver Falls Families,

I hope this message finds you well, and that you are finding ways to make this “stay at home” order as comfortable for your family as possible, and maybe even creating opportunities for special time together as a family. Whether reading to your young children or playing board games with your teens, kids will remember forever what they did during these weeks at home with the people who love them most. This week is, after all, Spring Break, so I encourage you to take a break from the hustle and enjoy this time together.

Teams of professional educators from throughout the district are actively developing plans to keep learning alive for our students during this period of closure that currently has students returning on April 29th. I want to thank the principals and other administrators, as well as all the teachers who have volunteered their time off this week to work on systems for providing our students with supplemental learning activities. I also want to thank you for your patience as we endeavor together into an uncharted landscape of remote learning for all students.

This time of school closure is unlike anything any living educator has faced. There is no blueprint to follow. There is still a lot of uncertainty. Like you, we have more questions than answers right now.. Nevertheless, I want to share with you what we know and what we’re working on.

Learning Continuity

To keep students engaged and learning, we have posted many supplemental learning materials and activities to our district website and shared them via email. Please remember that these are supplemental resources, are not required, and are not graded assignments that move students through the grade levels. We have heard many positive stories from parents and families about experiences of learning in the home together, and even some questions about why we don’t just move everything online, including coursework for credit.There are many reasons for that, and just about every reason is summed up by saying, we’re just not ready to do that for all students. To illustrate, we have heard many stories of families who lack internet access, many areas within our district with unreliable or weak internet connections, and even examples of families with three children and one computer, which means there are simply not enough hours in the day for everyone to have access to do their work. I mention these examples because our greater community, like many others, just doesn’t have the infrastructure to provide equitable education online for everyone.

Additionally, we know that online learning isn’t the right solution for every learner. In fact, I’ll take this opportunity to emphasize that nothing can replace the personal interaction between students and their caring teachers in school, and that the in-person mode of learning is still the best way to help students reach their potential. Student support systems matter. Students of all abilities need assistance from highly skilled professionals, whether with counseling, reading assistance, speech coaching, or one of the many other specialized supports that allow students to access their education in a manner consistent with their peers. Equitable access to learning matters. Silver Falls Educators know this, and are working on ways to deliver as much learning as possible for students, through a variety of both online and offline supports.

Meal and Supplies Delivery

In the coming days, we will announce plans to use our school buses to deliver meals for students, and also to deliver learning supplies and materials to students at their homes. We’re still working out the logistics, and I’m sure we’ll learn quickly what works and what needs improvement. I want to thank you in advance for your patience and assistance as we increase our services and supports for in-home learning for all students.

Graduation and Standardized Tests

The Oregon Department of Education is expected to soon announce accommodations for seniors approaching graduation. Those details are being worked out at the state level, but could include a change in the number of credits required for graduation, allowing our seniors currently on track to cross the finish line in June, to do so on-time regardless of the current closure, and perhaps even earlier.

The College Board recently canceled the May 2nd administration of the SAT, as well as the makeup test dates for March. We are also waiting for possible direction on remote test administration for AP courses.

The Oregon Department of Education announced that state testing (SBAC) has been cancelled for the remainder of the year. I applaud this decision, as it frees up valuable time this Spring for more learning time for students. Accountability measures used in district and school report cards will be based on the previous full school year’s data.

Facilities Closure & Final Thoughts

I want to encourage everyone to continue to follow the recommendations coming from the CDC and the Oregon Health Authority regarding handwashing and social distancing. These and other preventive measures are ways we can all work together to protect ourselves and our families, but also our neighbors and the families of everyone in our community. This pandemic is affecting people of all ages, regardless of where we live. We must therefore act with unity, for the benefit of all.

As one last reminder, in compliance with Governor Brown’s most recent executive order, all school facilities (to include playgrounds and other outdoor spaces) are closed to the public until further notice. We all look forward to the day children and teachers are back in our schools and on our playgrounds, but until then urge everyone to stay home as much as possible.

Thank you for your patience and for reading these lengthy communications coming from the district. We hope you and your children are feeling connected to a community of educators who care deeply about your children, and who are working hard to make the best of this unusual situation.

Be well,

Paul D. Peterson
Interim Superintendent

Dear Silver Falls Families,

There is a lot of conversation about when or even if our students will return to classrooms. Please be assured that as soon we know anything new, we will share it with you as immediately as possible.

We also understand that our families are stressed not only about keeping kids safe but keeping up with at-home instruction. As we consider the best uses of our time and emotional energy in the coming days, we encourage everyone to consider a recent post by one of our partners in learning:

“Kids are always learning.  What they’re learning right now is how adults respond.” — Josh Starr

The education of each of our students is vitally important.  That said, this is a time for balance, prioritizing, and out of the box thinking from both educators and parents.

At this time, we are planning on our kids returning to classrooms on April 29th.  We are thoughtfully considering how to recover as much lost instructional time as possible and will share our plans for that as they develop.

In the meantime, we will continue to provide suggestions for students of all ages for families to use at their discretion in order to reduce learning regression.  Your teachers may also be providing suggestions.  Additionally, many of our partners in learning have opened their paid sites for free use during this closure.  Because we know a large list like this can be very overwhelming, we will choose a few each week to highlight for you through the duration of this closure. We also have a list of links available on our website’s learning supports page.

Also, for all those members of our community serving in essential roles during this closure: our first-responders, medical and emergency personnel, and so many others – thank you. We know you in particular are struggling right now to find ways to support your children while also supporting the continuing needs of our community. We’re happy to report that the Governor’s office released a toolkit today that help us determine which supports, like childcare, we can provide directly. We’re working through the toolkit, and hope to have more to announce soon.

Thank you all for your continued patience and your steadfast commitment to the well-being of all kids.

Resource Spotlight:  https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
Day by day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.  Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a meaningful story or video.  Kids can do them on their own or with their families.  Just find your grade level and let the learning begin!

Good evening, Silver Falls Families.

This evening we’re sharing a brief message on plans to continue to provide supplemental learning supports for students and their families during the mandated school closure due to COVID-19.

We’d like to begin by clarifying again that all learning resources and activities that the district provides at this time are for families to use at their discretion and are not required. These resources are not a part of, nor a replacement for the day-to-day learning that typically happens in our classrooms.

School buildings will remain closed through April 28. However, Silver Falls School District staff members will return to work on March 30th – via a remote model in line with current social-distancing guidelines – for the purpose of developing and providing additional supplemental learning resources for our students.

This first week of the school closure is itself swiftly coming to a close, and we expect our messaging will continue, but at a likely reduced pace, over next week (the originally scheduled “Spring Break”). We wish all of our families health and safety at this time, and encourage parents to speak with their children about their educational goals. If there are specific requests for materials or subject areas you’d like to see us support, we encourage you to send those ideas to feedback@silverfalls.k12.or.us. We can’t promise we’ll be able to fill every request, but we’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can best assist the learning of our communities’ children at this time.

You can find the link to our current online learning supports page here.

Good evening, Silver Falls Families.

We have only a few brief updates for you this evening.

First, the district website now hosts a COVID-19 Closure Frequently Asked Questions page. We will continue to update it as often as we can with responses to the questions you send to feedback@silverfalls.k12.or.us.

Second, we know you have questions about planning for some sort of continuity of learning during the extended closure. We are in the midst of developing plans in line with the Department of Education’s guidance on this subject, and hope to have more to share with you soon. For now, we continue to provide education supports on our School Closure Learning Supports Page.

Finally, we have an update on the free lunch program’s availability over Spring Break. Monday through Friday, March 23rd thru the 27th, the free drive-thru lunch for children ages 18 and under will be available from 11:30 to 12:30 at Silverton High School only.

We appreciate all of the positive messages we’ve received as we work to find the best way to continue to serve our community during this time of uncertainty. We also appreciate your continued patience as we work through many of the unique issues we face.

Evening of March 17th, 2020

Silver Falls Families,

We are aware of the Executive order this evening by Governor Brown to extend the closure of schools until April 28th. We will announce more about what this means for Silver Falls School District in the coming days.

For more information see the full press release from the Governor’s Office.

March 17, 2020

Good Evening, Silver Falls Families.

We have two announcements for you this evening: the first pertains to a change in the free lunch program, and the second is the availability of learning resources to support families.

Change in Lunch Program Locations

In order to better utilize our low staffing during the current closure, and due to low turnout at this location, we are removing Silver Crest Elementary as a free lunch destination for the remainder of this week. The following locations will remain available for meals as previously announced:

  1. Silverton High School
  2. Scotts Mills Elementary
  3. Butte Creek Elementary
  4. Victor Point Elementary

Online Learning Resources Available

This is Jennifer Hannan, Director of Teaching & Learning for the Silver Falls School District. Excellent educators in our region have compiled strategies and educational activities that families can use to keep students engaged in learning during this school closure.

These resources can be found on our website’s new School Closures Learning Resources Page.

These remote learning activities are organized by grade level and contain a combination of low tech and technology-based options across multiple subject areas, including consideration for student physical and mental wellness. Day one is now available for all grade levels and additional days will be added as the closure continues or until we receive some additional direction on how to proceed.

These activities are not meant to replace any work your student’s teachers may have provided for them, nor is completion of remote learning activities required at this time.

Our goal is simply to provide a structure for at-home learning so families have some easy-to-implement activities to prevent regression and learning loss during this closure.

It is important to note that these remote learning opportunities do not replace the high-quality instruction and engaged learning that happens every day in our classrooms. We hope to have our students and teachers back in our classrooms as soon as possible but will continue to find new ways to support our students and families as long as this closure continues.

We will provide you with updates on plans and expectations as quickly as possible should a prolonged closure become necessary. For now, we hope that you find these resources helpful and this message finds you well.

As always please feel free to reach out to us with any questions at feedback@silverfalls.k12.or.us

March 16, 2020

Good evening Silver Falls Families,

As the COVID-19 situation in Oregon continues to develop, we are monitoring and responding to updated guidance from the Governor, Oregon Health Authority, and the Department of Education. As always, safety for all our students and staff is our number one priority.

On Tuesday, March 17th, all schools district-wide will be closed, including the District Office. Note that this is a change from our earlier plan to have some staff in buildings on Tuesday, and custodians in buildings all throughout the break. The planned deep-clean of buildings will still occur prior to the return of students.

These changes will not impact the distribution of free lunches. The drive-thru model will continue from 11:30-12:30 every weekday for all children up to 18 years of age in the following locations:

 March 17 – 20

  • Silverton High School
  • Scotts Mills Elementary
  • Silver Crest Elementary
  • Butte Creek Elementary
  • Victor Point Elementary

The latest guidance from the Oregon Department of Education is for students to return on Wednesday, April 1st. Should this change, we will send out an update. Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we respond to this ever-changing situation.

March 13, 2020

Good afternoon, Silver Falls Families.

We have an update regarding the effects of the mandated school closure beginning Monday the 16th that has students returning on April 1st.

First of all, all school offices will be open normal hours at least Monday and Tuesday the 16th and 17th. During this time, we encourage parents to visit the school to pick up items that may be needed at home such as inhalers and books, as well as to speak with the office staff about family or student needs during this break. If you need to speak with school staff during the break, and can’t make it in to the school, please call your school Monday or Tuesday to discuss possible solutions.

Sack lunches will be provided in a drive-through model to all children under the age of 18, at no cost to families, at the following school sites between 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM:

  • Silverton High School
  • Scotts Mills Elementary
  • Silver Crest Elementary
  • Butte Creek Elementary
  • Victor Point Elementary

Lunches will be available between March 16 and March 20th, and again on March 30th and 31st.

This drive-through model allows us to provide meals while following social distancing guidelines. There is no requirement to call in advance to order a lunch.

Also over the break, custodial staff will be working to deep-clean each building and ensure they are prepared for the return of students on April 1st.

If you or your family experience illness during the break, we encourage you to contact your Doctor as soon as possible to discuss. We’d also like to reiterate that basic preventative measures go a long way to keeping our entire community safe and healthy. These include:

  • Continuing infection prevention basics—hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home if ill.
  • Calling your medical provider with any concerns and for guidance with your health.
  • Strongly following social distancing recommendations—cancelling anything that isn’t essential, such as parties, birthdays, and traveling. Staying home as much as possible.
  • Following CDC travel restrictions.
  • Checking the OHA website regularly for updates and recommendations.

As more information becomes available from ODE, OHA, or the Governor’s office, we will keep you updated.

If you have any other questions please feel free to contact the district’s feedback email address: feedback@silverfalls.k12.or.us.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we all work together to find answers to the questions we’re all facing during this time, and for your continued help as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Evening of March 12, 2020

We are aware of the Governor’s order of this evening, closing all schools statewide beginning Monday, with students returning April 1st. School Friday the 13th is on as scheduled.

The district will release more information as soon as we can, and expect to do so around mid-day on Friday.

For more information, see the official press release from the Oregon Department of Education.

March 12, 2020

Silver Falls School District Families,

We’d like to provide you with an update on new developments related to the coronavirus.

First of all, there are still no known or presumptive cases of coronavirus in the Silver Falls School District.

The district has been provided with new guidelines from OSAA, ODE, OHA, and the Governor’s Office. Based on those guidelines, as well as best practices from other districts around the state, district leadership met this morning to make decisions on the status of district activities during the coming weeks.

Please see the following chart for complete details, and note that all of the below applies to activities occurring within the next 30 days only (thru April 10th):

ActivityResponse
Activities, Arts, & Athletics Concerts/Competitions/PracticesWill follow OSAA Direction – State Basketball Tournament cancelled.
AssembliesCancelled
Book FairsCancelled
Building-level MeetingsAs deemed essential
Building-level Professional DevelopmentContinue at this time
Classified Contract BargainingTo be determined
Community Transition ProgramContinue
ConferencesNone planned at this time
DancesCancelled
District Trainings & Professional DevelopmentCancelled
Facilities Use by Outside GroupsCancelled
Field tripsCancelled
Fire drillsContinuing per mandate
IEP MeetingsContinue, by phone if possible
Job FairsCancelled
Kindergarten RoundupsPostpone
LunchesPotentially staggering at SHS, will open hallways to provide additional space for students to voluntarily spread out. Alternative plans for students with sensitivities.
Outdoor SchoolCancelled
Parent Club MeetingsCancelled
RecessesContinue at this time
SBAC TestingContinuing at this time
School-related TravelCancelled
SFSD Board MeetingsTo be determined
VolunteersAs essential to our primary function of educating children

We’ve received questions from community members regarding whether or not schools will be closed in the coming days or weeks. We will follow the ODE/OHA direction to remain open unless COVID cases are present in our district, at which point we will work collaboratively with those organizations to determine the way forward. At this point we consider this a day-by-day decision, based on updates and information we receive daily. That said, we believe some proactive preparation is a good idea, and are looking at solutions for potentially providing other modes of quality teaching and learning if closure becomes warranted.

Finally, we recognize that some families may feel the need to voluntarily quarantine their children. As always, the final decision on whether or not your child attends school in this type of situation is up to each individual family. We reaffirm our commitment to providing a healthy and safe learning environment in each of our schools, and ask that you keep students showing any signs of illness home. These symptoms may include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If your child or other members of your family are exhibiting any of these symptoms, please keep your child home until the affected individuals are symptom-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication such as fever-reducers.

As new information becomes available or the situation changes, we will provide you with updates. All COVID-related information from the district is available at https://silverfallsschools.org/district-covid-19-update/, and the Oregon Health Authority has a resource page setup here: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/.

Thank you for your continued understanding and support.

March 11, 2020

Silver Falls School District Families,

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Oregon increasing, Governor Brown announced new guidance tonight regarding group gatherings and social distancing. We join with other districts in Oregon in our commitment to keeping our schools open and safe. Per the guidance from the Governor’s Office this evening, and in an effort to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread, we are announcing the cancellation or postponement of all non-essential school activities, effective immediately.

Please note that this is a purely preventative measure. At this time there are no cases of coronavirus in Silver Falls Schools.

This action is effective as of Thursday, March 12, and will remain in effect for 30 days, as per the Governor’s guidance. Cancelled activities include all school-based assemblies and events, field-trips, and meetings. Furthermore, in accordance with the Governor’s messaging and the guidance of the OSAA, athletics activities will have no audience admission for the duration of this action. Further changes may occur, and further activities altered or cancelled, as we meet with appropriate personnel in the coming days. As those changes occur, we will notify you as soon as is possible.

Our top priority is that we maintain the ability to offer a safe education for our students, and a safe working environment for district employees. All decisions we make in the coming days will be to that end. We consider it a top priority to keep our schools open.

We recognize that the cancellation of activities will impact you and your family, and we recognize that many students, staff members, and others will be disappointed by the prospect of potentially missing out on activities, performances, and other events that so greatly enhance the educational experience. Rest assured that we are committed to supporting our staff members and students as we work through this situation, and that we will encourage all interested parties to find ways to postpone, rather than to cancel, the activities mentioned above wherever possible. We believe this suspension of activities is the most responsible action we can take given the stewardship we bear.

We further recognize that there are situations wherein we are mandated to offer community access to certain activities (such as with meetings of the School Board). We are exploring all options to allow for technology-based solutions to those questions, and we will keep you informed as those details become available.

We are in contact with both local and regional health authorities and will continue to be so over the coming weeks. As their guidance changes, we will alter our plans and actions accordingly. Please be assured that our highest priority is the health and safety of our students and staff, and that we will take whatever actions are required to minimize the spread of coronavirus within our schools.

We will continue emphasizing the importance of handwashing at school. Our custodians will continue to prioritize high-touch surfaces in classrooms and common areas.

Students, families and everyone in our community can best support our efforts by washing hands frequently, covering mouths when coughing or sneezing, and using hand sanitizer when hot water and soap are not available. Those experiencing symptoms of the cold or flu should stay at home, only returning to school or work when symptom-free for 24 hours. If you are concerned about symptoms, please consult with a doctor.

District messages about COVID-19 can be found on the district website, located at https://silverfallsschools.org.

The Oregon Health Authority has a resource page available here: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/.

We will continue to rely on the guidance from Oregon public health authorities, the Department of Education, and the Office of the Governor. We are working alongside many other districts around the state, and this message has been adapted from a similar one that has gone out to families across the state. We appreciate the efforts of educational partners and colleagues across the state facing difficult decisions at this time, and join with those others in asking for your patience and understanding as we all do our best to play our part in keeping our communities safe.

March 9, 2020

Dear Silver Falls Families,

With the ongoing potential for our school district to be directly affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we will provide regular updates to our community on this page.

What steps has the District been taking to address this situation?

The school district is taking this matter seriously and applying important measures to ensure that your students are safe.

The District is and has taken the following measures:

Increased custodial time on environmental sanitizing, specifically of flat surfaces and shared areas.
Increased classroom education (specifically at the elementary level) in regard to respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
Increased monitoring of attendance rates and surveillance of respiratory illness in each building.
Planning with each building principal for continuity of education if a short-term closure were to occur.
Communication with medically fragile populations to meet individual needs.

These measures exceed public health guidance.  A district team will continue to meet regularly to address this issue as it evolves. This team includes district office administrators, district nurses, principals, assistant principals, and our facilities supervisor.

How can all parents and community members help?

Speaking with children about this situation is difficult for some.  A helpful tool for parents and others comes from The National Association of School Psychologists.  Please follow their link and consider using their suggestions.

We continue to advise parents to keep students home if they display any signs of illness, and we ask that you please report symptoms your child is experiencing to the attendance staff at the school.  Health officials have advised schools to follow routine illness exclusion guidelines at this time (fever above 100.4, vomiting, diarrhea or persistent cough with shortness of breath).  We will continue to follow public health guidance on illness exclusion.

Some helpful reminders . . . you can help yourself and your student(s) reduce risk getting or spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, by encouraging them to take simple steps.  These also help prevent COVID-19:

Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
Cover your mouth with a tissue, sleeve, or elbow (not hands) when you cough or sneeze, and then throw tissues away and wash your hands.
If you or someone in your household is sick, stay home and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider. Please see this link for guidance on when children should stay home from school.
Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and regular exercise, and taking care of underlying health conditions.

What are public health officials saying today about school community events like athletics competitions or music concerts?

At this time, public health officials have not advised social distancing or cancellation of any school-sponsored events.  Should it be determined that this is a necessary step, we will communicate with the public when that decision is made.

Where can I find other helpful information?

Please know that the school district is taking necessary precautions to protect children and the community.

Sincerely,

Paul Peterson

Superintendent