News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

ODE issues January health advisory

As Oregon fully experiences the impacts of the Omicron variant over the next several weeks, student access to in-person instruction may be seriously affected. While early data indicates 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.

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.

To maintain the continuity of instruction during school this year, Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education are issuing the following School Health Advisory, to remain in effect statewide Jan. 3 – 31, unless otherwise updated.

For schools:
If students or staff show COVID-19 symptoms or the school is aware they are a close contact, they must exclude the individual. Schools may offer testing to the individual through OHA’s Diagnostic Testing Program.

Test to stay protocol allows unvaccinated individuals who were exposed to a COVID-19 positive case in a K-12 school setting to remain learning in-person when certain criteria are met.

If a quarantine is called for, prioritize a shortened seven day quarantine option. This means that when a close contact remains symptom free and tests negative at 5-7 days after exposures, they may return to school and other activities on day 8.

Schools should reinforce the importance of layered mitigation efforts. Plan to re-teach appropriate use of face coverings, reestablish consistent physical distancing practices, incorporate frequent handwashing, recheck ventilation systems, and attend to other layered health and safety measures.

Schools should consider implementing additional layers of protection such as increased airflow and circulation, implementing free COVID-19 testing, retraining staff on all protocols, and educating staff, students and families about COVID-19 symptoms.

Schools should work with health partners to offer vaccination clinics and encourage eligible students and staff to get their vaccinations and boosters.

Schools and other organizations should pause extracurricular activities or ensure they follow the same layered mitigation safety protocols practiced during the school day (use of face coverings, screening and diagnostic testing, encourage vaccination, frequent handwashing, etc.).

Schools should hold events (parent/ family conferences, fundraisers, etc.) online, rather than in-person. If events are held in-person, make every effort to hold the events under covered areas outside, ensure all participants wear masks, and maintain a physical distance of at least six feet between individuals from different households.

For families and community members:
The ODE needs your help to maintain in-person instruction for children across Oregon. You can help:
If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, do not send them to school. Seek a COVID-19 test.

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 boosted if you’re not. If you’re eligible for a booster, make your appointment today.

Families with school-age children and educators should limit gatherings and non-essential activities with people from other households to the extent possible.

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.

CDC updates to quarantine, isolation
The CDC made changes to the recommended quarantine and isolation guidance for exposed individuals. OHA officials are consulting with the CDC on what these changes mean for schools.

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Youth age 12 – 15 eligible for booster

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