Updates regarding Test to Stay Protocol & Updates to the RSSL Resiliency Framework and the Planning for COVID-19 in School Scenarios 

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To: Superintendents, Private School Leaders, Charter School Leaders, School Nurses, Reopening Advisors 
From: Kati Moseley, Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Manager 
Date: December 13, 2021 
RE: Updates regarding Test to Stay Protocol & Updates to the RSSL Resiliency Framework and the Planning for COVID-19 in School Scenarios 


Dear Colleagues, 

Thank you for your partnership as we work with our OHA collaborators to clarify guidance around the OHA Diagnostic Testing program and new test to stay protocol. We recognize, value and truly see your contribution to our statewide efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and communities.  

I am writing to share additional resources and materials developed to support your ongoing implementation of the test to stay protocol, as well as to share revisions to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework and the Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools document.  

Clarification to test to stay protocol 

The test to stay protocol is a form of modified quarantine which allows students and staff exposed to a COVID-19 case in a school setting to continue to attend school if they remain symptom free and test negative upon exposure and at 5-7 days after exposures. Test to stay is a key element for our unvaccinated students and staff to remain learning in-person while still keeping our communities safe.   

On December 6, 2021, the Oregon Health Authority updated COVID-19 investigative guidelines which serves as guidance for Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs). These updates highlight K-12 close contact definitions in both indoor and outdoor settings. These definitions expand who qualifies for the test to stay protocol in schools to include:  

  • Students or staff who are exposed during an unmasked outdoor recess.
  • Students or staff exposed during lunch or snack.  

More detail on these clarifications is available in the OHA COVID-19 Testing in Oregon’s K-12 Schools guidance and test to stay protocol FAQs.   

ODE continues to create tools to assist with school implementation of this protocol. Resources that have been added to ODE’s Communication Toolkit page include: 

  • Translated One-page explainer for parents and families. 
  • Social media cards to support community understanding of the protocol by Wednesday, Dec. 15. 
  • A short explanatory video for use with students, parents and families will be posted Friday, Dec. 17.  

ODE has updated these documents to reflect these recent changes:  

  • COVID-19 vaccination is now available to students 5 or older. Vaccination for those eligible is the best tool that we have to support in person learning and protect the health of students, staff, families and our communities.  
  • OHA’s adoption of updated temporary rules OARs 333-019-1015 & 333-019-1025 lifting the requirement to wear face coverings outdoors.  
  • Prioritization of 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.  
  • Test to stay protocol allowing 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. 

Schools should be thoughtful about how to ensure equitable access to tests for students. Please be sure your schools are registered for diagnostic testing to take full advantage of the test to stay protocol. Register at schooltesting.COVID@DHSOHA.state.or.us and learn more at the comprehensive OHA  website for information on all school testing options. 

The RSSL Resiliency Framework and the Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools are offered to schools to support successful full-time, in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year.   

Keeping up with changes in COVID-19 

ODE is in constant conversation with the Oregon Health Authority on the practices and protocols needed in order to keep kids in school safely. The emerging information about the omicron variant indicates that the measures named in the health advisory issued on November 1 are still the best course of action to protect students, educators and staff. 

As the advisory makes clear, layered mitigation measures remain the best course of action to reduce the chances of spreading any variant of COVID-19, including vaccinations and boosters for everyone over the age of five. 

Decisions about when or how schools respond to an outbreak of COVID-19 involve collaboration across multiple actors. A resource for school leaders to use to inform decision-making at the local level is the Oregon Data for Decisions DashboardODE has partnered with OHA and Willamette ESD to create this tool to provide up-to-date data that will continue to grow over the months ahead. 

As 2022 approaches we are reminded of our goal to deliver in-person instruction to all Oregon K-12 students. We lean on the multiple layers of health and safety measures in place within our schools including vaccination, universal masking indoors, physically distancing, ventilation, cohorting, hand washing, etc. All of these layers are critical tools in limiting the spread of COVID-19 while providing equitable education. 

Again, thank you for your tireless work on behalf of Oregon youth. Breaks and transitions in the academic year can be challenging as many families face loss, uncertainty, and turmoil. Making time and space for care, connection, grace and patience for ourselves and others are vitally important to nurturing health and well-being now, and throughout the school year. As you prepare for the winter break, I hope that the season brings a sense of rest, transition and renewal. 

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