Key takeaways: What we know about COVID-19 and local schools

Statesman Journal file

With Oregon officials extending emergency school closures through April 28, questions are circulating on how students will continue learning, how educators will be paid, if students will be able to graduate, how families will receive meals and more.

In a special school board meeting March 18, Salem-Keizer Public Schools officials mapped out plans they have in place, as well as things they’re still figuring out.

Here are some of the key takeaways.

Chemawa Indian School leaders speak after gag orders lifted

Credit: Madeleine Cook / Statesman Journal

Over the last three years, news coverage of Chemawa in Salem has largely focused on allegations of fraud, mismanagement and student deaths.

For the first time since a federal gag order prohibiting staff and students at Chemawa Indian School from speaking publicly about abuse allegations was lifted, leaders of the Native American boarding school are sharing their side of the story.

Read the full story here.

The push for progress for trans students in Oregon schools

Photo: Madeleine Cook / Statesman Journal

Oregon has helped lead the way in increasing transgender rights, but trans people are still among society’s most vulnerable.

This article shares perspectives and information from trans students, parents, educators, advocates and more. Read the full story here.

Is Salem’s homeless crisis getting worse? Volunteers help in extended PIT count


(PC: Anna Reed, Statesman Journal)

Volunteers took to the streets Wednesday morning for Salem’s Point-in-Time homeless count, collecting data on the crisis of homelessness many believe has gotten worse in recent years.

Watch the video and read the full story here.

Silverton averts teacher strike with last-minute deal

white paper and silver fountain pen

The school district in Silverton and the union representing its teachers averted a potential strike by coming to a last-minute agreement on a new contract late Monday night.

The two sides had until Monday to come to an agreement on a new contract, which they did at about 10:45 p.m., after about eight hours of negotiations.

Read the full article and backstory here.

Education gaps remain, affect Salem-area African American community

benny mckay

(PC: Statesman Journal file)

Salem-area civil rights leaders are frustrated the same issues Martin Luther King Jr. fought decades ago — racial inequality, disrupted access to education, quality housing and health care — still haven’t been resolved.

Read the full story here.

School board members now mandatory reporters of child abuse, neglect


(PC: Anna Reed, Statesman Journal)

Along with firefighters, psychologists and licensed child care providers, Salem-Keizer School Board members are now state-required mandatory reporters, meaning they must file a report with the Oregon Department of Human Services, a law enforcement agency or school resource officer if they have “reasonable cause” to believe a child is being abused or neglected.

Read the full story here.

Grace House serves single homeless women


In Marion County, nearly half of the people experiencing homelessness are women. Among them, about 86% have reported being abused or attacked when homeless.

“You’ve got a lot more assaults, you’ve got women getting raped and you’ve got women being sold and used for this (or that),” Nowlin said. “(You hear,) ‘If you want to stay here in this tent, you’re gonna do this, this and this,’ and ‘If you want my protection while you’re on the streets, you’re gonna do this, this and this.’

“I think women can survive out there too, I mean, I have, it can be done, it can harden you,” she said. “But you’re more vulnerable.”

Read the full story here.

Salem family goes from political prison to full Princeton scholarship


It wasn’t until McKay High School senior Joshua Arce Masis visited his parents’ home countries of Nicaragua and Costa Rica — and learned of their journey to the United States — that he realized why his father was so adamant about his educational success.

“He wanted me to have the future he was denied,” Masis wrote in his college admission letter. “That’s why … I must succeed academically and accomplish my goals. I want to show my father that his investment in me was worthwhile.”

Years later, the senior is preparing to graduate high school and head to Princeton University on a full-ride scholarship. He’s the first in his family to go to college.

Read the full story here.

Students to school board: fight racism, use equity lens

Credit: Sandra Hernández-Lomelí

Racial justice activists are tired of appearing before the Salem-Keizer School Board, testifying about discrimination and having no action taken.

A dozen students, parents, graduates and leaders with the youth advocacy organization Latinos Unidos Siempre, or LUS, spoke at the board’s December meeting, calling on members to better implement their adopted equity lens and address racism in local schools.

Read the full story and board’s response here.

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