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Oregon Department of Education updates 'Back to School' guidance

"Kids really need the socialization especially after the last year, when everything was locked down."

Posted: Jul 23, 2021 6:50 PM
Updated: Jul 24, 2021 9:34 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- As the 2021-22 school year approaches, the Oregon Department of Education has updated its 'Ready Schools, Safe Learners' guidance for districts to follow as they prepare to welcome students back inside the classroom.

The guidelines require all districts to offer full-time, in-person instruction for all students every day of the week.

"Kids really need the socialization especially after the last year, when everything was locked down," said Barbara Iseli, who has grandchildren in Eugene's 4J school district.

The only other major requirement is that anyone riding the bus to and from school is supposed to wear a face mask throughout the duration of the ride. This is in accordance with federal requirements.

"I don't think there should be any requirements," April Bloom whose two children attend high school in Cottage Grove said. "I think if they want to wear them, that's fine, but I don't think they should be required to."

The guidelines "strongly recommend" unvaccinated students and staff members continue wearing masks and social distancing, but stops short of mandating those activities.

"Until they can have the equipment installed that takes care of all of these pathogens that are in the air, there probably should be a mask requirement for unvaccinated," Ken Luse, a grandparent of a 4J student said.

There is also an update to the quarantining policy. Following the CDC's guidelines for vaccinated individuals who are exposed to COVID-19, any students and staff member who comes into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus will not have to quarantine.

"It's a balancing act with everything and at some point, the interaction in school outweighs the risks," Brent Livesay, who has two school-aged children said.

Individual school districts will have the freedom to make their own COVID-19 safety rules outside of the requirements. 4J, Bethel, and Springfield Public Schools are all still reviewing the updated guidance and are aiming to release their plans for the upcoming school year closer to the fall.

"We will go along without complaining with whatever anybody asks of us, so that everybody can you know, do their best and have their best life going forward," Livesay said.

Across the state, all districts are required to submit their "Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services" to the Oregon Department of Education by August 23.

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