New Oregon School Health Advisory Kicks-In Thursday
SALEM, Ore. -The Oregon Department of Education has issued a new school health advisory that starts Thursday.
It has no expiration date.
ODE says the goal is to keep kids in the classroom full time, all-year.
- Implement your School-level COVID-19 Management Plan to maintain operations while promoting equity in learning and health, particularly for groups who are at higher risk of severe illness or loss of access to education due to communicable disease.
- Closely monitor COVID-19 transmission within your county through COVID-19 Community Levels. In alignment with CDC, ODE and OHA strongly advise universal masking in K–12 settings when COVID-19 Community Levels are high. At all levels, support individuals who choose to mask based on their individual risk assessment (e.g., increased risk for severe disease or family or community members at increased risk for severe disease).
- As the presence of illness increases in your local community, implement additional layers of protection such as increased airflow and circulation, implement free COVID-19 testing programs, retrain staff on all protocols, and educate staff, students and families about COVID-19 symptoms.
- Closely monitor unusual absenteeism or illness within a cohort and notify your LPHA about unusual respiratory disease activity if the following thresholds are met:
- At the school level: ≥ 30% absenteeism, with at least 10 students/staff absent.
- At the cohort level: ≥ 20% absenteeism, with at least 3 students/staff absent.
- Maximize implementation of layered mitigation strategies, including recommending face coverings or implementing universal use of face coverings before considering a shift to remote instruction or other modifications to in-person learning.
- Work with health partners to offer COVID-19 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.
- The COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Teachers and School Staff (OAR 333-019-1030) remains unchanged for this school year. The school and school-based program vaccination rule applies to anyone who provides goods and services to schools at any time students or children are or may be present, including after regular school hours, unless they are a short-term visitor or a delivery person. As with health care workers, religious and medical exceptions apply. Schools and school-based programs that grant an exception to the vaccination requirement under this rule must take reasonable steps to ensure that unvaccinated teachers, staff and volunteers are protected from contracting and spreading COVID-19. Reasonable steps could include, but are not limited to, weekly testing, a fitted N95 mask, additional physical distancing, or an isolated worksite. Ensuring that all the adults around students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 adds another layer of protection for students as well. Consult OAR 333-019-1030 or the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
- If students or staff have COVID-like symptoms, schools must exclude the individual per OAR 333-019-0010 (3) & (4). Through OHA’s Diagnostic Testing Program schools may offer COVID testing to the individual or to a cohort which includes individuals at increased risk of severe disease using enhanced exposure testing.
- Symptom-based exclusion guidance can be found within the Communicable Disease Guidance for Schools on page 9.
- Centralized support is available for schools and families through the Positive COVID-19 Test website and COVID-19 Case Support Hotline.
For families and community members:
We need your help to ensure our students have access to in-person instruction the entire school year. When illness spreads through our community, in-person instruction is at risk in our schools and classrooms. You can help:
- If your child is sick with COVID-like symptoms, do not send them to school.
- Seek a COVID-19 test. Contact your local school about a home testing kit or your local pharmacy. Testing is quick, easy and helps to reduce further person-to-person transmission by identifying people with infections so that they can isolate from others, thus protecting individuals at increased risk of severe disease.
- If your child tests negative, call your school to report illness symptoms and learn when your child may return to school.
- If your child tests positive for COVID-19, they need to stay home and isolate for at least 5 days.
- Students should get vaccinated and boosted when they become eligible.
- Catch up on checkups and routine vaccines to protect your child’s health.
- Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and reduces spread of the disease. Get Vaccinated Oregon can help you find vaccines near you.