Oregon issues school health advisories to address COVID-19 risk

The Oregon Department of Education said that it will be issuing both state and local advisories 'to maintain the continuity of instruction' and ensure that in-person learning can continue.

Posted: Sep 7, 2021 6:04 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Joining Governor Kate Brown in a press briefing on Tuesday, Oregon Department of Education director Colt Gill outlined the agency's latest efforts in response to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state.

Rather than bringing any new mandates or restrictions, the new ODE strategy will include the issuing of periodic school health advisories "to maintain the continuity of instruction" and ensure that in-person learning can continue. Educators are covered under Governor Brown's vaccine mandate, and will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18, and masks are required in Oregon schools for both students and staff.

"From time to time, OHA and ODE will issue School Health Advisories to identify additional steps families, schools, and communities can take to help keep our children safely learning in our schools," ODE said in a statement. "These advisories may be regional or statewide. The School Health Advisories may name actions that individuals, families and communities can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help schools stay open. They may be issued in response to either an increased risk by adding mitigation efforts or a reduced risk by rescinding previous School Health Advisories"

The introduction of these advisories came with a raft of initial advisories, set to remain in effect from September 7 through October 1, unless otherwise updated:

  • All eligible youth and adults who come in contact with school-age children should vaccinate to reduce spread in the school community.
  • Families with school-age children and educators should limit gatherings and non-essential activities with people from other households to the extent possible. If you are visiting people from another household, you should wear a mask, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet, and keep activities outdoors as much as possible.
  • To the extent possible, schools and other organizations should reduce extracurricular activities and consider holding activities, such as meals, recess, physical education classes, music and choir, outdoors to maximize physical distancing. Likewise, if schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, they should consider holding them outdoors and implementing additional precautions like face coverings and physical distancing.
  • Schools should hold beginning of the year family events (open houses, meet the teacher nights, etc.) online, rather than in-person. If events are held in-person, ensure all participants wear masks, hold the events outside, and maintain physical distancing of 6 feet to the degree possible.
  • Families should check your school’s website or ODE’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners website to review your school’s Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan.

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