New Oregon schools advisory in effect today | News

Salem, Ore. — Oregon’s education and health departments are issuing a new “School Health Advisory for Continuity of Instruction.”

The new advisory insists schools use their layered approach of preventive measures, including masks, to retain in-person for the balance of the school year. The advisory says a pre-pandemic protocol for respiratory disease outbreak is in place with the state experiencing a respiratory illness increase as people relax pandemic guidelines.

The advisory is the first from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) since March 2, 2022. That advisory ended April 30. The new advisory is effective today through August 31, 2022.

ODE and OHA says they are prioritizing safety protocols needed to continue full-time, in-person school for all students, and, “We know our students learn best in-person, where they have access to critical support and services.







child with parent

child with parent




Today’s advisory is a direct response to a change in CDC Community Levels in six Oregon counties during the past two weeks and a rise in respiratory disease.

ODE says today’s School Health Advisory intends to help schools work with local partners to operate in-person the remainder of this school year.

ODE says, “As students and staff have gathered indoors without face coverings for protection, Oregon has experienced an increase in cases of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. The combined burden of COVID-19, flu and other respiratory viruses co-occurring in our communities means that schools will need to continue to be vigilant about health and safety in order to protect in-person instruction. For several weeks now most counties in Oregon have been categorized as ‘low’ by the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels. This week six counties (Columbia, Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas, Benton, and Deschutes) are categorized as ‘Medium’ which is why we are sending this notice. Our north star remains ensuring equitable access to in-person instruction all day, every school day , for every student.”

The state agencies say knowledge and operational experience leaders gained implementing Iayered mitigation safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic “are key to maintaining in-person instruction. Implementing layered mitigation can prevent illness and keep students in school learning with teachers and staff. When school communities have illness rates that result in high numbers of staff and student absences, they should lean into the protection offered by layered mitigation safety protocols.Districts and schools should maximize implementation of layered mitigation strategies, including recommending face coverings or implementing universal use of face coverings, prior to contemplating a move to remote instruction or other closure of in-person instruction .”







first day back to in-person school

first day back to in-person school




Schools and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs) have partnered to provide support for respiratory disease outbreaks long before the COVID-19 pandemic. ODE says, “At this stage of the pandemic, we are returning to pre-pandemic protocols for respiratory disease outbreak management. School leaders should monitor their community for high rates of absenteeism or unusual spread of disease, and notify their LPHA if the following thresholds are met:

  1. At the school level: ≥ 30% absenteeism, with at least 10 students/staff absent.
  2. At the cohort level: ≥ 20% absenteeism, with at least 3 students/staff absent. For example, an elementary classroom of 25 students with 5 students absent, some with respiratory symptoms, would trigger a call to the LPHA partner.”

To maintain health and safety along with continuity of instruction during school this spring, OHA and ODE are issuing the following School Health Advisory, to remain in effect statewide May 13 – August 31, unless otherwise updated.

For schools:

  1. Continue to closely monitor COVID-19 transmission within your county through COVID-19 Community Levels. In alignment with CDC and ODE, OHA strongly advises universal masking in K-12 settings when COVID-19 Community Levels are high. At all levels, individuals may choose to mask based on their individual risk assessment (eg, increased risk for severe disease or family or community members at increased risk for severe disease).
  2. Schools should continue implementing free COVID-19 testing programs for students and staff.
  3. When districts or schools are considering a shift to remote instruction, they should first maximize implementation of layered mitigation strategies, including recommending face coverings or implementing universal use of face coverings, prior to contemplating a move to remote instruction or other closure of in-person learning .
  4. Schools should monitor unusual absenteeism or illness within a cohort and notify their LPHA about unusual respiratory disease activity if the following thresholds are met.
    1. At the school level: ≥ 30% absenteeism, with at least 10 students/staff absent.
    2. At the cohort level: ≥ 20% absenteeism, with at least 3 students/staff absent.
  5. If students or staff have COVID-like symptoms, schools must exclude the individual per OAR 333-019-0010 (3) & (4). Schools may offer COVID testing to the individual through OHA’s Diagnostic Testing Program.






    mother with her 10-year-old son, Jack

    mother with her 10-year-old son, Jack




    For families and community members:

    We need your help to ensure our children have consistent access to in-person instruction across Oregon. When illness spreads through our community, in-person instruction is threatened in our schools and classrooms. You can help:

    1. If your child is sick with COVID-like symptoms, do not send them to school.
    2. Seek a COVID-19 test. Contact your local school about a testing kit or your local pharmacy.
    3. Eligible students ages 5 and up should get vaccinated and boosted when they become eligible.
      • Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and reduces spread of the disease.
      • Get Vaccinated Oregon.

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