First page of letter to families and community delayed start of 2020-21 school year due to Holiday Farm Fire

September 9, 2020 

9:30 p.m. Update

Dear McKenzie Families & Community,    Today we reach out with some news about the start of the school year.   McKenzie School District leadership will delay the start of the school year to Monday, September 21 for ALL students. In light of the ever-evolving Holiday Farm Fire affecting so many in our school community, focusing on people is our most important task right now.   The Holiday Farm Fire has already impacted large portions of our district staff, students and their families, affecting us all as we care for, worry for and work to support our family, friends and neighbors. 

First and foremost, I want to make sure that you and your family have what you need right now. If you have not connected with the Red Cross, we encourage you to do so. There are shelters, offering resources, set up across the state to support all of us affected by these fires. 

Supports for displaced families can be found at

You can also follow the Red Cross on Facebook at:  and online at: You can also reach them by phone at  (503) 284-1234.

Most of the school districts in Oregon are offering free meals, weekdays, at school sites. I encourage you to take a look at free meal locations nearest to where you are sheltering right now. Our partner district staff are happy to support your children, ages 0-18, will free meals at these locations.   You can also reach out to the Red Cross for information on meals in your area.

Going forward  we also know that families are still working to navigate COVID-19 and all of the complications associated with the virus, as well as a totally new approach to learning. Together we continue to navigate these challenges and take care of one another. 

As we move into the new school year, this is our tentative plan, as health and safety conditions allow.   We will begin Comprehensive Distance Learning for ALL students on Monday, Sept. 21, as conditions allow. Our teachers and staff are looking forward to seeing our students on the 21st and bringing some normalcy, during these very challenging times, back to our students. 

We are still planning to connect with each of you before the start of instruction to conference with you and your student(s) to determine needs – WIFI, family location, etc. – and discuss the coming year.   

Student Chrome Book distribution is currently on hold. I will keep you posted and let you know more about when, and how, we will distribute these devices in the days to come.

At this time, the end of the school year and scheduled breaks are unchanged. These dates could change, however, depending on the amount of time we are all away from our homes and school. 

We know this added complication of a natural disaster in our community is an additional layer to an already complex year, and ultimately all of our decisions will be grounded in what is best for the members of our school community, as well as the greater Lane County area. We are hopeful that this additional week of space will allow us to all to pause and care for the people in our community.   Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through yet another challenging issue. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us – our team is here for you.

And to the fire personnel and emergency responders working to protect our community, thank you. You are ever so appreciated and we are thinking of you and your safety.


Lane Tompkins