PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tuesday is the first day of school for Oregon’s second-largest school district. 

This week, nearly 40,000 kids will return to in-person instruction at Salem-Keizer’s 65 schools. Sixth- and ninth-graders will have their first day Tuesday, while all other grades from first through 12 will begin on Wednesday. Kindergarteners will transition back to classrooms starting next week.

Students will be back in the classroom five days a week — a big change from the last year and a half. Another change this school year is the absence of any hybrid learning, as online or fully in-person are the only options.

Edge is Salem-Keizer School District’s online schooling platform, which has already reached capacity for all grades. Families may ask to place their child or children on a waitlist if they want to transfer online.

As the district welcomes back students, the schools have ramped up their COVID-19 safety precautions, hoping to keep their doors open for as long as possible. 

Salem-Keizer Public Schools has the unique luxury of having its own district health authority. It’s a team consisting of registered nurses and licensed practitioners who investigate and assess the medical needs of students and communicate that to Marion County Public Health. 

This certainly gives the district an edge in terms of tracking COVID-19 numbers in their school, but they also have introduced new control measures to keep kids and staff healthy. 

If a student or staff member develops symptoms at school, they will be offered a self-administered nasal swab COVID-19 test. According to the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education, close contacts who do not have symptoms and are fully vaccinated do not have to isolate. 

Since no students under 12 can get the vaccine yet, this means any close contact with almost every case that appears in an elementary school will need to quarantine. 

As far as lunchtime goes, SKSD will follow the lead of other districts by utilizing outside seating and classrooms. Edge students can pick up breakfast and lunch for free from their resident schools.

For sports, those on the court or field will not need to wear a mask — but all students on the sidelines, coaches, support staff and spectators will be required to wear one. Students using campus weight rooms will be required to mask up as well.

Meanwhile, no visitors or volunteers will be allowed in any Salem-Keizer schools for the month of September. 

According to the weekly COVID-19 outbreak report, there are currently no active cases in any Salem-Keizer schools.