Update to Quarantine Guidance for Close Contacts

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To:            Superintendents, Private School Leaders, School Nurses,
                 Charter School Leaders, Reopening Advisors
From:       Kati Moseley, ODE Ready Schools, Safe Learners Manager
Date:        November 19, 2021
RE:           Update to Quarantine Guidance for Close Contacts

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for all that you do to ensure our students are able to continue learning in-person throughout Oregon. I am writing to share a substantive update to Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) approach to quarantine length for those who come in close contact in a K-12 setting. We have heard the many challenges associated with missed instruction due to quarantine and these changes could offer additional options for students to return to in-person learning sooner. These changes to quarantine length are possible because schools are implementing multiple health and safety protocols; these protocols prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. 

Updates to Quarantine - Return to School on Day 8

As of November 18, 2021, the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 investigative guidelines* for unvaccinated close contacts who attend or work in the K–12 setting state that they:

  • Should quarantine for seven (7) days.
  • Should seek testing between five and seven (5–7) days following their last exposure.
  • If the close contact has a negative result on a test collected between days five and seven (5–7) by antigen or PCR test they may return to normal activities on day eight (8).
  • Close contacts should continue to monitor themselves for symptoms through the 14 days after their last exposure.

Previous guidance regarding vaccinated close contacts remains in place. Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and remain symptom free following the actual COVID-19 exposure.

The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 investigative guidelines* serve as guidance for Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs). Under certain circumstances an LPHA may direct a longer quarantine.  

The investigative guidelines are used by Local Public Health Authorities across the state to establish local quarantine guidance.

Why is OHA Recommending Changes

  • Although the risk of transmitting COVID-19 following a 7-day quarantine is higher than after a longer quarantine, OHA considers it to be very low in people who test negative (day 5–7) and who remain symptom-free.
  • Because Oregon’s K–12 schools implement multiple layers of health and safety protocols — including universal masking — this risk is further reduced in school settings.

The shortened quarantine standard relies on access to testing. Schools have the most readily available test for this purpose. Please be sure your schools are registered for diagnostic testing using Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests to take full advantage of this program and offer equitable access to tests for your students. Register at schooltesting.COVID@DHSOHA.state.or.us. Visit the comprehensive OHA  website for information on all school testing options.

Thank you for your patience as we work on updates to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework and supporting documents related to this update from OHA.

If you have any questions about this update, please contact the ODE COVID-19 inbox at ODECOVID19@ode.state.or.us. Thank you!