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.
Today’s School Health Advisory is the most critical and urgent issued to date.
As Oregon fully experiences the impacts of the Omicron variant over the next several weeks, student access to in-person instruction is under serious threat. While early data indicate that the Omicron variant may result in less severe disease than previous variants, it is increasingly clear that the Omicron variant spreads much more quickly and easily than all previous variants.
- Layered mitigation safety protocols (including vaccinations, boosters, face coverings, physical distancing, ventilation, frequent handwashing) are more critical now than at any other time during this pandemic.
- Based on the emerging experience of other countries, states and school districts, we expect rapid transmission of the Omicron variant in indoor settings in which people do not adhere with purpose and intention to masking requirements and other layered mitigation safety protocols.
Oregon schools have worked hard to reopen their doors to in-person learning and are diligently using the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in school settings. Thank you, educators!
Schools are managed settings. When administrators and staff in schools are trained and implement layered mitigation safety protocols fully, the risk of COVID-19 transmission can be lower than in general community settings without such protocols in place.
Current modeling from OHSU shows that Oregon will likely experience a significant COVID-19 surge, driven by the Omicron variant, beginning in January and continuing through February. This surge is likely to be much steeper than the Delta variant surge we have experienced. We expect impacts on workforce stability in schools, hospitals, and other sectors. Hospitals may be impacted even more severely than they were in the fall.
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 January 3 – January 31, unless otherwise updated.
For Families & Community Members:
We need your help to maintain in-person instruction for children across Oregon. When community spread increases, more COVID-19 is introduced in our schools and causes disruption of in-person learning due to quarantine and isolation. You can help:
- If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, do not send them to school. Seek a COVID-19 test. COVID-19 symptoms can be found on page 9 of the Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools A Toolkit for School Leaders and Local Public Health Authorities.
- Get vaccinated now if you’re not. Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and reduces spread of the disease. Get Vaccinated Oregon.
- Get boosted if you’re not. If you’re eligible for a booster, make your appointment today. Boosters provide an extra layer of protection needed to slow spread of the omicron variant.
- Families with school-age children and educators should limit gatherings and non-essential activities with people from other households to the extent possible throughout January and February. Before getting together with family, friends and loved ones, ask if attendees have received their COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters, and consider postponing visits if many attendees are not up to date with recommended doses. If you are visiting people from another household, you should wear a mask, maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet, and keep activities outdoors as much as possible.