First grade teacher Jenna Miller hands a math workbook to Nikolas Buczynski at Kalapuya Elementary School on Thursday, September 3. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

All Salem-Keizer School District students will start classes next Thursday, Sept. 17 after multiple schools had to cancel events preparing for the new school year because of wildfire-related impacts.

Superintendent Christy Perry announced the delay Thursday in a video.

School had been scheduled to start Monday, Sept. 14, for about 7,000 students enrolled in the district’s new all-online program, EDGE, and Tuesday, Sept. 15 for all other students.

Those start dates had already been pushed back one week from Salem-Keizer's typical start date to allow teachers and district employees more time to get ready for online learning because of school closures related to the Covid pandemic.

Now, Wednesday, Sept. 16 will be a “let’s get started” day for Salem-Keizer students to get familiar with logging onto and using online class platforms. Classes start the following day for all students, regardless of what program they’re enrolled in. Attendance will be taken Wednesday, district spokesman Aaron Harada said.

Perry did not announce any changes for kindergarteners, who are still scheduled to start school Sept. 22.

Though Salem and Keizer remain safe from the fires, Perry said about 400 district employees live in an area currently under level 2 or 3 evacuation as fires rage across western Oregon.

On a call this morning with principals and administrators across the district, Perry said all of the 150 employees present raised their hands when asked if they knew someone currently evacuating.

Heavy smoke prompted many local schools to reschedule outdoor events this week where students were to pick up Chromebooks and other needed supplies for online learning. Perry said those events will be rescheduled for early next week. Individual schools will send out information to parents and students about new times.

Nearly every school district in Marion County has postponed the start of school or cancelled planned classes as a result of the wildfires.

Fires burned through towns in the Santiam Canyon in the early hours of Tuesday morning, covering Santiam Elementary School and Santiam Jr. Sr. High School in smoke, but leaving them standing. The schools in Mill City remained unscathed Wednesday.

Santiam Canyon School District Superintendent Todd Miller said in a Facebook post the district would delay the start of school and announce a new dats once they have a chance to assess damage to school facilities.

“Right now, don't worry about school. Take care of your safety and family,” Miller wrote.

The North Santiam School District said on Facebook many staff and school board members had to flee their homes as a result of the fires. The district covers several towns with extensive fire damage, including Lyons and Mehama.

The Silver Falls School District said on its website Thursday a planned Sept. 14 start of school would be delayed, with no announcement yet about a new date. Silverton residents were ordered to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice Tuesday morning.

Schools in the Cascade, Dallas, Falls City, Gervais, Mt. Angel, North Marion and Woodburn districts were closed Thursday, according to the Oregonian, with several delaying their planned start of school until next week.

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Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.