SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Education on Monday issued another health advisory for schools.
The first advisory was issued in September for Director Colt Gill, “This year we’ve set a clear North Star for our Schools…We want all of our children to safely and reliably participate in school school full time, in person, every day, all year long.”
The ODE says due to the Omicron Variant, this latest advisory is the most critical yet.
Here is the advisory:
To maintain the continuity of instruction during school this year, OHA and ODE are issuing the following School Health Advisory, to remain in effect statewide January 3 – January 31, unless otherwise updated.
- If students or staff show COVID-19 symptoms or the school is aware they are a close contact, they must exclude the individual as per OAR 333-019-0010 (3) & (4). Schools may offer testing to the individual through OHA’s Diagnostic Testing Program. Refer to this 12-13-21 message for information on current 7-day quarantine and test to stay protocols.
- COVID-19 symptoms can be found on page 9 of the Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools A Toolkit for School Leaders and Local Public Health Authorities.
- Test to stay protocol allows unvaccinated individuals who were exposed to a COVID-19 positive case in a K-12 school setting to remain learning in-person when certain criteria are met.
- If a quarantine is called for, prioritize a shortened seven day quarantine option. This means that when a close contact remains symptom free and tests negative at 5-7 days after exposures, they may return to school and other activities on day 8.
- To reduce spread and the number of students and staff excluded from school due to contracting COVID-19 or quarantining due to close contact, each school should review and update their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan (available on this webpage):
- When instruction resumes in January, schools should reinforce the importance of layered mitigation efforts. Plan to re-teach appropriate use of face coverings, reestablish consistent physical distancing practices, incorporate frequent handwashing, recheck ventilation systems, and attend to other layered health and safety measures.
- Schools should consider implementing additional layers of protection such as increased airflow and circulation, implementing free COVID-19 testing programs, retraining staff on all protocols, and educating staff, students and families about COVID-19 symptoms.
- To remain eligible for American Rescue Plan Act federal funds, school districts are required to updated their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan (available on this webpage) by February 25. This is an important time to carefully review plans and make changes that will help keep students and staff safe and keep school doors open to in-person instruction. School districts will receive information on the process for updating their plans on January 4, 2022.
- Schools should work with health partners to offer vaccination clinics and encourage eligible students and staff to get their vaccinations and boosters. More information about vaccinations can be found at Get Vaccinated Oregon.
- Schools and other organizations should pause extracurricular activities or ensure they follow the same layered mitigation safety protocols practiced during the school day (use of face coverings, screening and diagnostic testing, encourage vaccination, frequent handwashing, etc.).
- If schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors and individuals are unmasked, they should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning due to isolation for those that contract COVID-19 and lengthy quarantines for those that come into close contact with infected individuals.
- This risk should be clearly communicated to families participating in these extracurricular activities.
- Schools should hold events (parent/family conferences, fundraisers, etc.) online, rather than in-person. If events are held in-person, make every effort to hold the events under covered areas outside, ensure all participants wear masks, and maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet between individuals from different households