Good afternoon, Silver Falls Families.

As you know, a primary goal of Silver Falls School District this year is to maintain a full, five-day per week in-person learning schedule for all of our students. We believe that students learn best in front of their teachers, in their classrooms alongside their peers.

Unfortunately we’ve seen a number of COVID-19 cases in our district already this year, forcing the quarantine of many more students due to close contacts and exposures. This has impacted classrooms, clubs, sports teams, and other activities.

With Homecoming Week next week, we felt it a good time to share some reminders and answer questions we’ve heard from our community, in an effort to ensure we’re all doing everything we can to keep our students safe and healthy, and our schools open.

Our first reminder is perhaps the most important: please do not send your child to school when they are sick. In this case, by sick, we mean they have any of the following symptoms:

  1. Fever or chills
  2. Cough
  3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  4. Fatigue
  5. Muscle or body aches
  6. Headache
  7. New loss of taste or smell
  8. Sore throat
  9. Congestion or runny nose
  10. Nausea or vomiting
  11. Diarrhea

Often, exposures occur before a person who is sick has officially been diagnosed with COVID-19. This is why it’s so important that no one with any symptoms of illness come to school. When someone comes to school feeling sick, if it turns out they have COVID-19, their presence at school will likely cause others to quarantine.

We know some of you have already experienced the frustration of starting the school year off with a period of quarantine related to COVID-19. Please keep in mind that quarantines are in place to keep as many of our students in school as possible, by limiting potential exposures and close contacts.

Additionally, if anyone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, please do not send your child to school. Instead, contact your school office directly so they can help you understand what actions to take next.

Below are some answers to others questions we’ve received on this topic:

Q: What counts as a close contact/exposure to COVID-19?
A: The important numbers to remember here are 6 feet, and 15 minutes. That is, a close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a confirmed or presumptive COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more within one day. However, there are potential exceptions and mitigating factors:

When indoors in a K-12 classroom setting where both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting masks and other K-12 school prevention strategies were in place (physical distancing, universal and correct mask usage, increased ventilation, etc.), students are not considered exposed unless within 3 feet for 15 minutes or more during a single day. This does not apply to staff members or other adults.

When students remove their masks for activities like eating lunch, or when outside without consistent mask use, the 6 feet, 15 minutes rule applies. This also applies to buses.

Q: How long is the quarantine period after a close contact with a person with COVID-19?
A: The current guidance from our Local Public Health Authority (LPHA), Marion County Health and Human Services, is to quarantine for 10 days since last exposure, and to monitor symptoms closely for 14 days. If an exposed person develops COVID-19 symptoms during quarantine, they should isolate and seek testing, and their guidance will change.

If the exposure is within a household and additional household members become ill with COVID-19, or if the exposed person can’t avoid continued close contact, the total duration of quarantine may be extended.

Q: How will my student keep up with school during the quarantine period?
A: This will depend on the teacher and the class, but in general online learning platforms such as Canvas are used to provide and turn-in work in classes. Additionally, teachers may use emails, phone calls, or video conferencing to keep in touch with quarantined students.

Q: If my student is vaccinated, do they still have to quarantine in the case of a close contact?
A: At this time, individuals who are fully vaccinated at the time of a close contact are not required to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. These individuals should still monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 during the 14 days following exposure, and if symptoms develop they should isolate themselves and seek testing. They are also encouraged to seek COVID-19 testing 3-5 days following their exposure.

Note that “fully vaccinated” means an individual has received either both doses of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or one dose of a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson), and 14 days have passed since the final dose in the series.