PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Salem-Keizer School District students will be staying home from school on Friday as the district takes a planned precautionary day off, amid hundreds of staff and thousands of students out sick.  

KOIN 6 News spoke with Superintendent Christy Perry who said the administrative team meets twice a day to evaluate how many staff they have and if it’s possible to have in-person instruction – this planned day off is to not have to switch to distance learning.  

Perry said 20% of students, over 7,000 students, and 15% of their workforce – over 730 staff were out sick yesterday with not enough substitutes or fill-in staff. she said she hopes Friday’s planned sick day allows all of them to catch up and hopefully be good to return Tuesday. 

She says staff is fatigued as even she has had to step in to teaching duties – but she said every day, it’s a reminder of why they do this.  

“Being with kids… our educators are doing so… I haven’t cried all week… our educators are doing such a phenomenal job with kids… the first grade classroom somebody came in and said ‘when these kids started, they’d missed most of kindergarten,’” Perry explained. “And we know the in-person instruction is exactly what we need to be doing for our kids.” 

The whole world is in a state of flux, and Perry says the response from her team has been to confront each challenge as it comes — knowing that even with the fatigue they’re all feeling, there are always people who will step up. 

She said if she wants one message to come across clear – it’s especially now, we need to champion our teachers for all they do and all they will continue to do.