Embargoed: Meeting Our Priority To Hold In-Person School 

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To:      Oregon Superintendents and Principals, Charter School Leaders, Private
            School Leaders, Reopening Advisors, School Nurses, Business Managers and
            Public Information Officers
From:  Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education
Date:   August 19, 2021
Re:      Embargoed: Meeting Our Priority To Hold In-Person School 

This message is embargoed until 11 a.m. Please do not share until then.

Dear School and District Leaders,

Thank you for your steady partnership as we return students to full-time, in-person instruction next year and keep students and staff safe, healthy and learning. 

I’m writing to let you know that today at 11 a.m., Governor Brown will direct the Oregon Health Authority to issue a rule requiring all public and private school teachers, educators, support staff, and volunteers in K-12 schools to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18, or six weeks from FDA approval, whichever is later. 

Similar announcements have been made by Governors in Washington State and California. The rule will be promulgated by the Oregon Health Authority in the next few days and we will send out more information as it becomes available.

Meeting Our Priority To Hold In-Person School 
Our priority is to implement the protocols needed to reliably hold school in-person, every school day, for all students, all year long. From what we know today, there are two keys to keeping our students in classrooms with minimal disruptions:

  • Most people in schools are unvaccinated (children under 12 are still not eligible), so masks are a critical tool to prevent spread of COVID-19 in a school setting. 
  • Just as important is ensuring all the adults around our students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so that they are safe and able to reliably provide in-person instruction.  

Although COVID-19 is a recent challenge, vaccinations are a familiar and long practiced health tool. The fact is that nearly every Oregon educator is already vaccinated against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Polio, Varicella (chickenpox), Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Hepatitis A & B. COVID-19 is a disease like all the others. 

Why Now?
School is about to start across the state and we must take action now. 

And, the Delta variant spreads quickly and effectively, often causing significant harm to unvaccinated individuals. 

Our hospitals are overcrowding due to severe COVID-19 cases (almost exclusively unvaccinated individuals). We are sending people out-of-state for care. Our ambulances need to know they can take the injured and severely ill to a hospital for care.

I know this news will impact educators differently, but I hope all Oregonians know we’re taking this step to protect health and safety and keep kids in school. 

The rule will apply to all teachers, educators, support staff, and volunteers in K-12 schools, public and private. As with state employees and healthcare workers - religious and medical/disability related exceptions apply.

Please contact ODE at ODE.COVID19@ode.state.or.us with any questions. Thank you for your continued partnership!