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Local Schools Postpone First Day of School Due to Wildfires

Elizabeth Gabriel


Due to wildfire smoke in Lane County, many schools have decided to push back the start date for the first day of school. 

4J School District 

[Update 9/16, 9:50am] The Eugene 4J school district has postponed their device distribution schedule another day, due to hazardous wildfire smoke. Now, schools will distribute student devices on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, if air quality allows. 

Students enrolled in the Eugene Online Academy should pick up their learning device at the school they would normally be attending. The district will monitor smoke levels and announce any cancellation or delay by noon on Thursday.

School is still expected to start on Monday for 4J students. There is a virtual 4J school board meeting Wednesday at 7 pm. The meeting can be accessed online through the 4J website.


[Update 9/14, 2:40pm] The 4J school board voted Thursday to move the first day of school to September 21.

This comes after the 4J school district postponed their student technology distribution, due to wildfire smoke in the Eugene area. According to a 4J press release, about half of the district’s students do not have student learning devices needed to access online instruction.

All other outdoor activities, including student athletics, have been canceled last week. 

The 4J school calendar has been adjusted to make up some school days. Two school days will be restored in February and March. Winter break, spring break, and the end of the school year have not changed. The last day of school for students is still Thursday, June 17. 

4J students in grades K–2 will receive iPads with protective cases. Grades 3–8 will use iPads with keyboards. High school students will be issued laptop computers. Students planning to attend the Eugene Online Academy may pick up their learning device at the regular school they would normally be attending.

Elementary schools will hold device pick-up this week, September 15–18. Some middle and high schools scheduled a second round of device distribution for students who did not pick up their iPad or laptop during the initial distribution days in late August. See information from your school for details.

4J asks families to wear a face covering, follow physical distancing and other protocols at your school when you pick up your student’s device. The district will continue to monitor the air quality conditions and weather forecast, and adjust the device pickup schedule and other outdoor activities as needed.

The complete 4J technology pickup schedule can be found here.

Free grab-and-go meals will resume this week for 4J students and all youth, unless air quality prevents outdoor activity.

Bethel School District [Update 9/14, 2:40pm] 

In a special Bethel School Board meeting Friday, the board voted unanimously to postpone the first day of school until September 21.

Free Grab-and-go student breakfast and luncheswill be available at every Bethel school beginning Tuesday. Families can pick up free meals Tuesdays and Fridays between 11:00am to 1:00pm.  Students will also be provided multi-meal boxes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  

Bethel families in need of basic resources and school supplies should contact their school office. All requests will remain confidential.

Districts will continue to monitor the air quality conditions to reschedule device pickup days and other outdoor activities.

Blachly School District 

The Blachly School District has also decided to push back its start date to September 21. Device checkout will be next week. A schedule will be posted prior to Monday, September 14.

Lincoln County School District

The Lincoln County School District will be closed Thursday through Friday due to the wildfires. Student instruction will resume Monday.

McKenzie School District 

[Update 9/16, 1:21pm] The McKenzie School District announced Tuesday that the first day of school has been postponed until September 28. This is a result of the Holiday Farm Fire affecting many staff, students and their families.

McKenzie School District staff will be contacting families in the coming days to provide additional information about technology for remote learning, school supplies, schedules and other details. 

South Lane School District 

[Update 9/16, 10:45am] The South Lane School District has postponed the first day of school another week. That means students will start on September 28.

Grades K-1 will begin with a hybrid model of in-person and online classes. Grades 2-12 will start with Comprehensive Distance Learning.

2nd graders will start in-person hybrid learning on October 12, and 3rd graders will start in-person hybrid learning on October 26.

Grades 4-12 will start hybrid learning on November 12.

All other dates on the academic calendar will remain the same.

South Lane officials wrote school and district building HVAC systems are running at optimal levels to help with smoke and air flow. These will be checked twice a day, and will continue until the outdoor air quality index is below 150.

Sports activities will not resume until the Lane Regional Air Protection’s air quality index is below 100.

Springfield School District

[Update 9/16, 10:45am] Technology Distribution Schedule Sept. 17 - 18:

High School: Thursday, Sept. 17 – Friday, Sept. 18

-   THS/SHS: 11 am – 7 pm

-   A3: 9 am – 4 pm

-   GHS: 2 – 5 pm

Middle School: Friday, Sept. 18

11 am – 6 pm

Thurston Middle School students still needing their devices and materials will pick them up at Thurston High School as fire response crews are currently staged at Thurston Middle School.

Elementary: Friday, Sept. 18

9 – 11 am, and 3 – 7 pm at your home school

SPSOnline students NEW to Springfield Public Schools this year: Thursday, Sept. 17 – Friday, Sept. 18

2 – 5 pm, Brattain School building, 425 10th Street, Springfield, OR

WiFi Pick-up: Thursday, Sept. 17 – Friday, Sept. 18

-   9 am – 5 pm, 180 D Street, Springfield, OR

Meal Service:

Springfield Elementary Schools (with the exception of Walterville, Thurston Elementary and Ridgeview Elementary), along with Agnes Stewart Middle School will be serving meals to children and youth up to age 18, regardless of whether they are Springfield students.

[Update 9/11, 12:20pm] Springfield School District also decided to push back its start date to September 21. The end of the school yearand previously scheduled breaks will not change, and the last day of school is June 17.

K-3 students will return to in-person instruction in a staggered start with K-1 beginning Sept. 21, 2nd graders going in-person on Sept. 28, and 3rd graders going in-person on October 5—as health conditions allow.

Technology distribution will be canceled for the remainder of the week and rescheduled for next week.

This story will be updated.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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