OHA Maintains Face Covering and Vaccination Requirements To Keep Students Learning In-person

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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: January 28, 2022
RE: OHA Maintains Face Covering and Vaccination Requirements To Keep Students Learning In-person

Today we are sharing Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) announcement maintaining the face covering and vaccination requirements in K-12 schools.

Today, OHA adopted permanent rules requiring face coverings in K-12 settings (OAR 333-019-1015) and requiring school and school-based program staff, volunteers, etc. provide proof of vaccination or medical or religious exception (OAR 333-019-1030). Since temporary rules were adopted in August, Oregon has experienced a significant surge from the delta variant and is currently amid an omicron surge in all corners of our state, with Oregon recently surpassing 6,000 COVID-19 related deaths this week, a tragic pandemic milestone. These rules work together with schools' other layered mitigation measures to protect in-person instruction, and keep students in schools, in front of talented teachers.

The responsibilities for schools described in the rules are unchanged.

Oregon continues to place a priority on ensuring that every student is able to attend school in-person for the entire school year. Students are required to attend school, which is a congregate setting where COVID-19 can spread easily if precautions are not taken. Universal and correct use of face coverings keeps students learning in-person. Our layered health and safety mitigation measures like face coverings and vaccination are helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in K-12 settings. As a reminder, schools cannot serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. Schools may offer a remote or online school option for the student.

Temporary to Permanent Rule

State agencies including the Oregon Health Authority implement and interpret their statutory authority through rule making. Agencies regularly adopt, amend, repeal or renumber rules, permanent or temporary. Temporary rules expire, permanent rules are repealed. OHA has stated they will continue to review the need for this rule and will rescind or repeal the rule as soon as it is safe to do so. However, the virus sets the timeline. These measures are needed now as vaccination and universal and correct use of face coverings are among the strongest mitigation tools available to protect in-person instruction.

I understand this update about OHA’s rules may bring questions. Our hope is to provide you with the assistance you need to implement this requirement with fidelity. Please contact ODE at ODECOVID19@ode.state.or.us with any questions.