Advisory in effect statewide November 1 – December 31, 2021
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) are partnering to prioritize the safety protocols needed to reliably return to full-time, in-person school for all students. We know our students learn best in-person, where they have access to other on-site critical services. Oregon schools have worked hard to reopen the doors to in-person learning and are already using the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in school settings. Thank you educators! Because schools are controlled settings, with layered mitigation safety protocols in place, the risk of COVID-19 transmission can be lower than in general community settings without such protocols in place. As colder weather arrives in Oregon, we will all be spending more time indoors which brings increased risk of spread of COVID-19. Let's keep the learning in-person by checking and further strengthening protocols as we move indoors. The more focused we are now on health and safety protocols and communication, the better we can navigate this next season together. Just like we add layers of clothes in the winter to protect ourselves from the wet and cold weather, we must add layers of safety protocols to protect one another from the spread of COVID-19 this winter. While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations under the Delta variant have declined significantly since their peak in late summer, cases and hospitalizations are currently close to the highest levels Oregon saw during the fall and winter surge of 2020, and every county in Oregon remains in high community transmission according to CDC metrics. It is critical that Oregonians work together at home, in the workplace, in our communities, and at school to preserve in-person learning for our students. 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 November 1 – December 31, unless otherwise updated:
- To reduce spread and the number of students and staff excluded from school due to quarantine, each school should review their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan (available on this webpage) to: a) Consider how they can implement additional layers of protection (examples include increased airflow and circulation, implementing all three COVID-19 testing programs, retraining staff on all protocols, and ensuring all staff, students and families know the COVID-19 symptoms); and b) Enhance and increase fidelity of implementation of current layers (examples include reviewing contact logs, class and bus seating charts, transition activities, and mealtime practices for improvement).
- All eligible youth should vaccinate to reduce spread of COVID-19 in the school community and reduce the number of students and staff who need to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. Vaccines are currently available for youth ages 12 and up. We expect federal approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5 to 11 soon. When the vaccine is available, schools and health partners should offer vaccination clinics allowing all eligible children to vaccinate as soon as possible to reduce spread of COVID-19 in the school community and reduce the impact of quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. Vaccinations can be especially helpful during the winter holiday season when many families will gather together indoors where COVID-19 can spread more readily.
- Families with school-age children and educators should limit gatherings and non-essential activities with people from other households to the extent possible throughout November and December. If you are visiting people from another household, you should wear a mask, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet, and keep activities outdoors to the degree possible.
- To the extent possible, schools and other organizations should reduce extracurricular activities. If schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors, they should consider implementing additional precautions like face coverings and physical distancing.
- Schools should hold events (parent/family conferences, fundraisers, etc.) online, rather than in-person. If events are held in-person (dances, carnivals, etc.), strive to hold the events under covered areas outside, ensure all participants wear masks, and maintain physical distancing of 6 feet to the extent possible.
From time to time, OHA and ODE will issue School Health Advisories to identify additional steps families, schools, and/or communities can take to help keep our children safely learning in our schools. These advisories may be regional or statewide. The School Health Advisories may name actions that individuals, families, schools, and/or communities can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help schools stay open to in-person instruction and reduce the number of students impacted by quarantine. Review these back-to-school COVID-19 safety tips for more information on how to keep everyone safe as students return to the classroom. For previous OHA/ODE School Health Advisories and more information on how your school is planning for a safe return to full-time, in-person learning go to oregon.gov/readyschools. Thank you for doing your part to ensure our children have consistent access to in-person learning.