Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current, July 28, 2021, Page 7, Image 7

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Checklist for families considering online school this fall
Chris Long
Willamette Connections Academy
Oregon families have endured
much this past year and a half, such
as natural disasters, social unrest
and COVID-19.
This chaos caused brick-and-mor-
tar schools to switch between tem-
porary distance learning and in-per-
son instruction, which was disrup-
tive for many families across the
Now that pre-pandemic routines
are returning, parents and students
are weighing their options for the new
school year.
We found that many families were
newly interested in our established,
tuition-free full-time online school,
Willamette Connections Academy.
Now, some of these families who
experienced online education during
the COVID-19 crisis are keeping their
kids in virtual schooling for other rea-
sons, like flexible scheduling and cus-
tomized learning. Stability was key
for new Willamette Connections
Academy students because they re-
ceived a high-quality education with
minimal interruptions.
Parents considering online learn-
ing for their students should remem-
ber not all virtual schools are alike.
We are built specifically for online
learning, meaning everything from
our teacher training to the curriculum
is created with the digital environ-
ment in mind.
Oregon has plenty of online learn-
ing options, but it can be daunting for
families to locate one to meet their
student’s learning preferences. When
selecting a virtual school parents
should evaluate several areas:
Safe learning environment
rolled in virtual schools for physical
and mental health safety concerns
like bullying.
Online schools should offer a safe
and welcoming virtual learning envi-
ronment. The school’s online learn-
ing portal, allowing students to ac-
cess assignments, email and webinar
systems, should be protected by se-
curity protocols.
Comprehensive curriculum
High-quality online schools offer a
rigorous, complete curriculum, meet-
ing or exceeding state standards,
which keep students motivated and
engaged in learning.
Ideally, students shouldn’t be sit-
ting in front of a screen or a Zoom ses-
sion for several hours a day. Reading,
writing and other offline learning is
essential and encouraged for a well-
rounded student.
Teacher training
Teachers at a full-time virtual
school should be state-certified and
specially trained in online instruc-
At Willamette Connections Acad-
emy, teachers bring their skills and
personality to the virtual classroom,
not only getting to know their stu-
dents, but often providing learning
support for the entire family.
Individual attention
Students can obtain more individ-
ualized attention in full-time online
Parents should look for schools
where teachers provide one-on-one
attention for students, helping them
accelerate learning in areas of
strength or receive assistance in sub-
jects that call for improvement.
See if teachers have virtual office
hours, and are available by phone and
email to support the specific needs of
each child.
Before the pandemic, students en-
“ “Now, some of these families who experienced online
education during the COVID-19 crisis are keeping their kids
in virtual schooling for other reasons, like flexible
scheduling and customized learning. Stability was key for
new Willamette Connections Academy students because
they received a high-quality education with minimal
Parents considering online learning for their students
should remember not all virtual schools are alike. We are
built specifically for online learning, meaning everything
from our teacher training to the curriculum is created with
the digital environment in mind.”
Parental involvement
One silver lining of the pandemic is
that some families for the first time
had a ringside seat to their child’s
education during distance learning.
Many enjoyed being more involved
and understanding how their stu-
dents preferred to learn.
Families looking at online educa-
tion choices should inquire about the
expectations for “learning coaches”
at prospective virtual schools. At Wil-
lamette Connections Academy, learn-
ing coaches (parents or other trusted
adults) often assist teachers by mak-
ing sure attendance and student work
is complete.
When parents take an active role in
their child’s education, students are
more likely to succeed.
Virtual schools that provide stu-
dents with a solid social and emotion-
al atmosphere should be at the top of
your list. Learning online doesn’t
mean learning alone.
Students at our school connect
with classmates during interactive
live online classroom sessions, clubs
and activities, plus face-to-face field
trips when it is safe to do so. Flexibil-
ity in virtual learning not only makes
room in the schedule for school
events, but also volunteering, extra-
curricular activities and more.
Student support
Support services are critical to
look for in an experienced virtual
school, including mentoring, tutoring
and technical support. It is also im-
portant to ask if the school has a ded-
icated staff to assist students with
different learning needs and a coun-
seling team to help support children
from an emotional standpoint.
While students often thrive in full-
time virtual school, it’s not the best fit
for every child. The pandemic
changed the thinking of many par-
ents and educators about technology
in academics. I’m optimistic that the
result will be a better future for our
Willamette Connections Academy
is now enrolling for the 2021-22 aca-
demic year. To learn more about the
school or to begin the enrollment
process visit WillametteConnections or call 888-478-9474.
Chris Long is the principal at Wil-
lamette Connections Academy.
Amazon submits plans for logistics center in Woodburn
Bill Poehler
Salem Statesman Journal
Amazon plans to build a five-story, 3.8 million-
square-foot logistics center to store, prepare and
distribute products on 82 acres in Woodburn.
The center will create 1,250 new jobs, according
to plans filed with the city.
The online retailer has purchased 128 acres on
Butteville Road next to the WinCo Foods Distribu-
tion Center along Interstate 5 for $27 million.
Called “Project Basie” in planning documents
submitted to Woodburn, the seven adjoining plots
the online retail giant purchased are in the city’s
southwest industrial area, a location eyed for ma-
jor developments since a 2001 city analysis.
Woodburn annexed the land into its urban
growth boundary in 2016 after years of court bat-
In a statement, the city said Amazon has not ap-
plied for or indicated it will seek the city’s enter-
prise zone tax breaks.
Businesses that qualify for the city’s enterprise
zone program can get property tax exemptions for
up to five years, but they must meet qualifications
such as paying workers more than $67,134 annu-
ally, or about $32 an hour on average.
According to documents submitted to the city,
more than 1,250 jobs will be created at the Wood-
burn location at an average starting wage of $17 per
hour plus benefits.
Seattle-based Amazon opened a fulfillment
center in Salem in 2017 and a second in Salem in
2019 among its six locations already in Oregon. The
retailer has become the largest online marketplace
and surpassed Walmart as the most valuable re-
tailer in the United States in 2017.
According to the Marion County Tax Assessor's
Office, Amazon purchased two pieces of the land
for the Woodburn project for $2.5 million from
Darma Real Estate on April 23, then purchased the
majority of the land from Specht Woodburn LLC
for $22.3 million and the rest from the Weisz Fam-
ily for $1.6 million June 23.
In its plans, Amazon asked to exceed the maxi-
mum building height, not extend Woodland Ave-
nue, reduce the required number of loading spaces
and allow accessory structures within six feet of
the main building, along with right-of-way design
Among the options laid out in the application
submitted by planning group Mackenzie, a round-
about would be installed and a new intersection
would be added at what would become New Butte-
ville Road where it meets Highway 219.
Planning documents show the widening of But-
teville Road to three lanes, adding extra lanes at
some points from its current two-land configura-
tion, adding bike lanes, sidewalks and a landscap-
ing strip along the road.
Major improvements to the Interstate 5 inter-
change at Woodburn were completed in 2015, al-
lowing for more traffic through the busy area.
But the company has proposed adding capacity
to the southbound I-5 off-ramp.
Amazon has yet to submit a complete land use
application. City spokesperson Tommy Moore said
a public hearing with the city’s planning commis-
sion has not been scheduled, but one is expected
later this summer.
The site is already being cleared, which is al-
lowed without a land-use permit. The company
will have to apply to the city for building permits
after that.
Land is cleared at the future site of an Amazon facility in Woodburn. BRIAN HAYES / STATESMAN JOURNAL
Public Notices
The Amazon logo is seen in Amazon, in Douai,
northern France, Thursday April 16, 2020. Amazon
has decided to suspend "temporarily" all activity in
France, one day after a French court found it wasn't
doing enough to protect its workers amid the virus
crisis in the country. AP PHOTO/MICHEL SPINGLER
Amazon did not respond to the Statesman Jour-
nal's request for information about the proposed
Woodburn center.
Bill Poehler covers Marion County for the States-
at or
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