Good afternoon, Silver Falls Families.

We’re writing today to share a brief update on COVID mitigation and prevention protocols in schools based on newly updated guidelines from Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education issued late this morning. We are also updating the manner in which we provide COVID case information for schools.

First, based on the newly updated guidance from state agencies, the outdoor mask requirement at schools is no longer in effect. Specifically, this guideline has moved back to one of local control, and at this time Silver Falls School District will not require masks while outdoors for any individuals on school property. Please note that this applies only to district property – activities held off-site (such as this week’s State Championship football game) may still require face coverings per the owners of those locations.

Second, the state has announced the implementation of a new ‘test to stay’ program, which will allow unvaccinated but asymptomatic individuals to stay in school. While specific implementation details are not yet available, a high level overview of this program is as follows:

  1. An unvaccinated individual is determined to have been exposed to COVID-19 in an indoor or outdoor school setting where universal masking is in place.
  2. If the individual would otherwise be required to quarantine (staying home from school), instead they may choose to participate in the test to stay program.
  3. An individual in the test to stay program is tested twice during the 7 days following the exposure. First, as soon as the exposure is identified, and second between 5 and 7 days following exposure. Participants in this program may remain and engage in classroom and extracurricular activities during these 7 days, but must wear a face covering at all times while doing so.
  4. The tests associated with this program will be free of charge.

We’ll have more information about this program in the coming days, and expect this information to be primarily communicated on a case by case basis to those individuals to whom it applies. We’re excited to offer this additional tool for keeping students and staff at school following an exposure. Please note that this new program only applies to unvaccinated individuals. Individuals who are fully vaccinated are still not required to quarantine upon exposure unless they become symptomatic.

Finally, we have heard from many in our community that the frequency with which we send COVID-19 notifications from our school buildings has become a burden, and in fact reduces the effectiveness of our communications to you as your inbox or phone becomes inundated with COVID notifications. As a result of this feedback and in order to improve the effectiveness of all communication from the district, beginning the week after Thanksgiving break we will no longer send individual messages from school buildings regarding COVID exposures on campus. Instead, we will continue to update our District COVID-19 Dashboard with weekly updates, and plan to roll out weekly by-school counts on that page by the 1st of January. With this change, the only notifications you receive from the district via ParentSquare will now be more relevant to your student(s) directly.