New Oregon School Advisory Effective Today

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Departments of Education and Health are releasing a new “School Health Advisory for Continuity of Instruction.”

The new advice insists that schools use their layered approach of preventative measures, including masks, to be kept in person for the rest of the school year. The notice says a pre-pandemic protocol for respiratory disease outbreaks is in place, with the state seeing an increase in respiratory illnesses as people relax pandemic guidelines.

The advisory is the first from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) since March 2, 2022. This advisory ended on April 30. The new advisory is in effect today until August 31, 2022.

The ODE and OHA say they are prioritizing the safety protocols necessary to continue full-time, in-person school for all students, and, “We know our students learn best in person, where they have access to essential support and services.

child with parent

Today’s advisory is a direct response to a change in CDC community levels in six Oregon counties over the past two weeks and an increase in respiratory illnesses.

The ODE says today’s school health notice intends to help schools work with local partners to operate in-person for the remainder of this school year.

ODE says, “As students and staff have gathered indoors without face coverings to protect themselves, Oregon has seen an increase in cases of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. The combined burden of COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory viruses co-existing in our communities means schools will need to continue to be health and safety vigilant in order to protect in-person instruction.For several weeks, most counties of Oregon have been classified as “Low” by the CDC COVID-19 community levels Week six counties (Columbia, Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas, Benton, and Deschutes) are classified as “Medium”, this “That’s why we’re sending this notice. Our North Star continues to ensure equitable access to in-person instruction all day, every school day, for every student.”

State agencies say leaders gained knowledge and operational experience by implementing Imulti-level mitigation security protocols during the coronavirus pandemic” are critical to maintaining in-person instruction. Implementing tiered mitigations can prevent illness and allow students to continue learning with teachers and staff. When school communities have illness rates that lead to high numbers of staff and student absences, they should look at the protection offered by multi-level mitigating safety protocols. Districts and schools should maximize the implementation of multi-level mitigation strategies, including recommending face coverings or implementing universal use of face coverings, before considering moving to distance learning or ending instruction in nobody .”

first day back to school in person

first day back to school in person

Schools and local public health authorities (LPHA) partnered to provide support for respiratory disease outbreaks long before the COVID-19 pandemic. The ODE says: “At this point in the pandemic, we are reverting to pre-pandemic protocols for managing respiratory disease outbreaks. Headteachers should monitor their community for high rates of absenteeism or unusual spread disease, and inform their LPHA if the following thresholds are met:

  1. School level: ≥ 30% absenteeism, with at least 10 students/staff absent.
  2. At the cohort level: ≥ 20% absenteeism, with at least 3 students/staff absent. For example, an elementary class of 25 students with 5 students absent, some with respiratory symptoms, would trigger a call to partner LPHA.”

To maintain health and safety as well as continuity of instruction during school this spring, the OHA and ODE are issuing the following school health advisory, which will remain in effect statewide from May 13 as of August 31, unless otherwise updated.

For schools:

  1. Continue to closely monitor the transmission of COVID-19 in your county via COVID-19 Community Levels. Consistent with the CDC and ODE, the OHA strongly recommends universal masking in K-12 settings when community COVID-19 levels are high. At all levels, individuals may choose to wear a mask based on their individual risk assessment (for example, increased risk of severe illness or family or community members at increased risk of severe illness).
  2. Schools should continue to implement free COVID-19 screening programs for students and staff.
  3. When districts or schools consider moving to remote learning, they should first maximize the implementation of multi-level mitigation strategies, including recommending face coverings or implementing the use universal face coverings, before considering switching to distance learning or ending in-person learning. .
  4. Schools should monitor unusual absenteeism or illness within a cohort and notify their LPHA of unusual respiratory illness activity if the following thresholds are met.
    1. School level: ≥ 30% absenteeism, with at least 10 students/staff absent.
    2. At the cohort level: ≥ 20% absenteeism, with at least 3 students/staff absent.
  5. If students or staff exhibit COVID-like symptoms, schools should exclude the individual in accordance with SRO 333-019-0010 (3) and (4). Schools can offer COVID testing to the individual through the OHA’s diagnostic testing program.

    mother with her 10 year old son, Jack

    mother with her 10 year old son, Jack

    For families and community members:

    We need your help to ensure our children have consistent access to in-person instruction throughout Oregon. When the disease spreads through our community, in-person instruction is threatened in our schools and classrooms. You can help:

    1. If your child is sick with COVID-like symptoms, don’t send them to school.
    2. Look for a COVID-19 test. Contact your local school about a test kit or your local pharmacy.
    3. Eligible students ages 5 and older must get vaccinated and boosted when they become eligible.
      • Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illnesses from COVID-19 and reduces the spread of the disease.
      • Get vaccinated in Oregon.

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