Change to Oregon Health Authority Reporting of K-12 School COVID-19 Outbreaks Begins on 9/22/21

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To:           Superintendents and Principals, Private School and Charter School
                Leaders, Business Managers, School Nurses, Public Information Officers,
                Reopening Advisors 
From:      Kati Moseley, ODE Ready Schools, Safe Learners Manager
Date:       September 21, 2021
RE:         Change to Oregon Health Authority Reporting of K-12 School COVID-19
               Outbreaks Begins on 9/22/21


Beginning on Wednesday, September 22, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reports on COVID-19 cases in schools will look different.  

  • OHA will continue to report the number of cases in school by student and staff/volunteer. Active and resolved outbreaks will now include all cases linked to the outbreak and will no longer differentiate between student and staff/volunteer cases.  
  • K-12 outbreaks are defined as having 2+ cases identified, where there is evidence of transmission, at school. Outbreaks may include cases who were not at school but are close contacts of those exposed at school. This provides a more accurate picture of the scale of K-12 related outbreaks and how they may link to other cases in the community.
  • Differences of note between school reported data and public health reported data:
    • Schools may have the most complete picture of student and staff related illness as they are regularly notified of an illness when individuals must be kept home. 
    • With the increased use of at-home testing, schools may be aware of cases who notify the school of their positive test results when a student or staff member must stay home; however, individuals who test positive at home are not required to report to public health. Individuals who test positive on an at-home test kit are advised to follow-up with their primary care provider.
    • Initial COVID-19 reports from labs and providers don’t contain information about school attendance. Local public health must reach the case and conduct an interview to determine whether cases have been at school.  During surge conditions, counties are given the option to make one attempt to call a case. If the case doesn’t respond, then they send a follow up text and the case is considered lost to follow up. It is possible that school cases are not identified, particularly during surges in cases, because the individual did not return communication attempts from public health.
  • Schools should notify their local public health authority of all positive cases identified among students and staff, including those who are reporting a positive at-home COVID-19 test.

If you have any questions about this change in reporting, please contact the ODE COVID-19 inbox at Thank you!