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Through the Grapevine

Through the Grapevine

Have a question or need clarification about district operations?

Through the grapevine offers accurate information and addresses concerns about district operations and schools.

Posted on this page are the top questions and answers. The district updates this page continually with additional questions and answers of greater concern to its variety of stakeholders.

Feel free to click on contact us to ask a question not listed here.

Questions & answers

Click on the highlighted questions below to find the answers.

Does Salem-Keizer Public Schools teach critical race theory?

Critical Race Theory ​​is not curriculum or included in the Oregon state standards for K12 education. These state standards, however, do include social sciences education aimed at helping students develop as rational, humane and productive citizens in a democratic society. Students learn through ethnic studies, tribal history/shared history and holocaust and genocide.

The district has 105 languages in its school district, therefore, strives to ensure all schools are safe and welcoming for students from every walk of life. Educators value the rich diversity, history and assets of historically marginalized students of color and in no way uses instruction to blame or shame any one race. It simply provides an avenue for these students to see themselves in their studies, minus the stereotypes, and in a positive light.

In as much, social sciences can enrich the lives of students because they can learn and share in the experiences of a variety of different cultures impacted by historical issues that segregated them based on race rather than offer a chance to live as part of one great society.

How are library materials selected in Salem-Keizer Schools?

Libraries located in Salem-Keizer schools strive to offer a collection of diverse books and reading materials that can:

  • Help students understand and celebrate their own backgrounds, cultures, & experiences
  • Broaden students’ thinking to include a global perspective
  • Build awareness and an understanding of voices that are often suppressed or omitted
  • Strengthen inquiry regarding political, racial and social injustice
  • Empower students to envision a future of possibilities not necessarily represented in the present

Books available in Salem-Keizer school libraries are not part of curriculum. Parents or guardians may ask the school librarian or library media assistant to restrict their student’s access to any book in their school library.

I’m worried about what my student can check out from the library, how do I know what is available and how can I ask for my child to not check out a book?

Ask the school librarian for how to access a list of books in the library. As a parent or guardian, you have the right to request that certain books be off limits to your student.

Do I have the right to ask that my student not participate in lessons related to sexual health?

Yes. Please ask your school for opt out forms (There are not opt out forms for Secondary – they just need to email their teacher. This happens in ParentVue during registration and they can opt out at any time by opening Student Registration, or emailing their teacher). Meanwhile, we encourage you to, first, reach out to your student’s teacher and ask to review the curriculum before you make your decision.

I’ve heard there is a new elementary health adoption, is there a way for me to preview the materials?

Salem-Keizer Public Schools is in the process of evaluating and adopting a health curriculum for elementary grades.

At this point in the process, staff, families and community members are invited to review curriculum materials on Dec. 6 & 8.

Learn more about elementary health curriculum adoption

Do schools allow students to use their cellphones during school hours?

This applies to elementary and middle school students only. Elementary and middle school students can use cellphones before and after the school day. During school, students may not use their cellphone in classrooms, common areas (lunch) or between periods. Teachers may allow use of cell phones during classroom instruction or specifically for academic purposes in certain situations and as permitted by the school. Administers will ask students to turn their cellphones off and put them inside of their backpacks, leave at the main office, or in their locker (if available). Parents and guardians who need immediate communication with their student, please call their school main office.

Has the bond program run out of money and had to cut out any work promised to schools?

No. The 2018 bond program is on track to deliver all the improvements promised to schools and more. Because of premiums and earnings on the bond proceeds, grants and reimbursements, the district is able to provide well over $100 million in additional work above and beyond what was originally promised, all without affecting the taxpayer’s levy rate.

Does the district have or enforce a dress code policy for students?

The district reviewed the dress code and updated the policy effective beginning the 2019-20 school year. The district incorporated student and parent feedback as well as national best practices into the updated policy.

Essentially, students are expected to dress in a way that is appropriate for the school day and for any school-sponsored event. The primary responsibility for a student’s attire resides with the student and their parent(s) or guardian(s). Student dress choices should respect the ability to sustain a community that is inclusive of a diverse range of identities. The school district is responsible for ensuring that student attire does not interfere with the health and safety of any student; that student attire does not contribute to a hostile or intimidating atmosphere for any student; and that dress code enforcement does not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income, or body type/size.

For more information about the district dress code, view this PDF document.

Do SKPS schools provide some students litter boxes for bathrooms?

No. Salem-Keizer Public Schools does not provide litter boxes for bathroom use. This rumor has been circulating, nationally, and more recently in some Oregon schools. Restroom facilities are available at all district facilities and schools and comply with state law.

Do schools not assign lockers during the 2022-23 school year because of COVID-19 and Monkey Pox?

No-use of lockers are determined by the school and have nothing to do with communicable diseases.

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