Santiam Canyon Updates 10.29.2020

October 29, 2020

Dear Santiam Community,

We have seen our share of challenges this fall. If COVID wasn’t enough, the wild fires really took a toll on the Canyon and our families. Through the smoky devastation though, our hope and resilience shows through. We have a long road to recovery, but together, we will get through this and be stronger.

Distance Learning is underway and we are all working to come together, support our kids, and to improve our practices. We are all learners right now. For help, please reach out to your school staff. We are here to help and to point families to available resources.

SMOKE DAMAGE IN OUR SCHOOLS- We are fortunate to still have our schools standing, but as with many others in the area, we are facing smoke damage in the schools. These are the buildings we will send our kids to, and they need to be cleaned professionally. This has been a daunting task, since we were denied by our insurance. We have ash and soot coating surfaces, and received cleaning estimates in the millions of dollars to clean and service all equipment on district property, including our current and new buildings. With help from state and federal legislators, we finally have resolution on this issue and cleaning will begin soon! This is a favorable win for our district, unfortunately it has also caused delays in some of our plans. It has delayed construction and slowed our ability to get students back into the schools.

CONSTRUCTION- With cleaning beginning in the new construction as well, we will soon be able to gradually complete and open parts of the new campus. If you have not been by it recently, it is looking great! We were within weeks of completing Buildings A and C prior to the fires, but since then, little work has happened. As we waited on cleaning the buildings, we shifted the efforts to the exteriors of the buildings and road/sidewalk work. With cleaning beginning now, we can soon finish the insides and get staff and students back onto our campus.

IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION- Based on the wild fires, three Oregon school districts were given exemptions from the Governor’s COVID metrics, that allows us to do some in-person instruction for students. Once our buildings are clean we will be able to gradually add in some in-person supports. Below is a brief description of our two-phase approach to adding these services. I need to make it clear though that this exemption we received still comes with lots of restrictions and does not mean we can just open like we did before COVID.

  • PHASE 1- Beginning within approximately a month, we hope to have several distance learning locations (hubs) available for students to go to do distance learning. The first priority for this service will be for students who have lost homes or are still displaced. These students need a place to learn. We still have students without power, internet and other essential utilities. Once we have a better handle on how many students this is and what our capacity is for adding students, we will let families know.
  • PHASE 2- We will continue with our hubs for students, while then adding in-person instruction for our younger students. COVID guidelines split students into K-3 rules and grades 4-12 rules. The details of who will be able to come in and how long it will be for are still in the works. With any in-person instruction opportunities, they are not required, and thus, we will continue with distance learning for those who select that option. Our hope is to slowly add in opportunities for more students to come into school, as we can. This is a big lift for us to make this transition, so it could take some time to get it up and running, smoothly and safely for all. More information will be released as we know it.

At this point, we want to thank our families for helping with distance learning. Your support is essential to the success of our students. Our goal remains to get students back into our schools as much as we can, while maintaining a safe environment and within the State guidelines. We are diligently working on plans now, but in the meantime, we need to get our buildings ready again for students.

We STAND TOGETHER as a community for each other and for our students. Parents, please reach out to our staff for any help you need.


Todd Miller, Superintendent