School-level COVID-19 Management Plan Reminder, NEW training resources, planning supports

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

Planning for the 2022-23 School Year

To: Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, Reopening Advisors, School Nurses, Principals, K-12 PIOs 
From: Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education 
Date: August 1, 2022 
Re: School-level COVID-19 Management Plan due date reminder and updated resources for 22-23 School Year 

Dear School and District Leaders, 

As the 2022-23 school year approaches, it is another year that calls on us as leaders to build and sustain hope, continue to meet challenges with purpose and intention, prioritize staff and student physical and mental health and well-being and embed the work of system change in the goals of advancing equity, engaging community, all to provide a well-rounded and inclusive education.  

As you plan for students and staff to return to your buildings in a few short weeks, I am writing to share updated resources and a few reminders to support health and well-being in your school communities.  

The start of this school year looks and feels different from the last few. Nearly all health and safety protocols are locally determined, with district leaders partnering with local public health authorities to make decisions about how to implement health and safety protocols to best serve their community.    

Care and Connection Resources and Oregon Classroom WISE 

To kick off the year, we are again encouraging schools and school districts to focus on Care and Connection. This focus is an opportunity for school leaders, staff, students and families to foster care, connection and community, and to create a healthy foundation for incorporating Care and Connection activities into the entire school year.  

School-level COVID-19 Management Plan Reminder, NEW Training Resources, and Planning Supports 

On April 28, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) shared requirements for the 2022-23 school year related to COVID-19 management in schools. Education Service Districts, school districts and public charter schools must ensure that every public school and program has a completed COVID-19 Management Plan by submitting a set of assurances to ODE before the start of the district's school year or by August 26, whichever is sooner.  

Please reach out to your ESD representative or to with any questions. 

Updated Webpages, Resources and Tools to support planning and managing respiratory illness during the 2022-23 school year 

ODE has updated materials and toolkits for the coming school year, available at the Planning for the 2022-23 school year webpage. The new webpage includes updated communicable disease guidance for schools, a communication toolkit and archived resources from previous school years.

Upcoming Office Hours – Aug. 8 

To assist schools as they operationalize communicable disease management including COVID-19, ODE will host office hours focused on the updated communicable disease guidance for schools. Mark your calendar to join us on Monday, August 8 from 3:30-4:30. As with the end of the last school year, please sign up for information about office hours, and make sure to watch your email for announcements about topics and confirmation that office hours will take place.  

Reminders About Critical Tools
to Prevent and Mitigate COVID-19  

COVID-19 Vaccination  

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to be the best way to protect ourselves,  our families and our communities. We know that families trust information they receive from their school. Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation found parents whose children attended a school that provided information on the vaccine or encouraged its uptake were more likely to say their child had been vaccinated. The vaccine is free and safe. No health insurance is required, and it is available regardless of immigration status. Please consider ways to promote COVID-19 vaccination to protect your school community.  

Face Coverings 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and ODE continue to strongly recommend the universal use of face coverings in schools in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the lost time learning in school due to illness when COVID-19 Community Levels are high. Masking in schools continues to be a local decision into the 2022-23 school year. Individuals may always choose to mask based on their individual risk assessment. Schools should continue to support the use of face coverings by individuals and create an environment where this decision is welcomed and honored. 

OHA’s School Testing Options - Diagnostic, Screening & Enhanced Exposure 

Again, this year OHA will offer several testing programs to fit the needs of school communities, including diagnostic and screening test programs. OHA has updated the consent forms for these programs. Please download and use the COVID-19 General Consent Form or COVID-19 Minor Testing Consent Form for the 2022-23 school year. Launched last spring, schools are encouraged to offer test to stay enhanced exposure testing to students and staff in cohorts which include individuals at increased risk of severe disease. Visit the Oregon COVID-19 Youth Testing program website for more details. 

Ventilation and Airflow 

Good physical conditions in a school can reduce absenteeism, improve test scores and improve teacher retention rates. Ventilation is a primary tool to improve physical conditions within a school, reduce viral spread indoors and promote a healthy learning environment for every student. Improved indoor air quality is associated with better student and staff attendance, engagement, and well-being, as well as other health outcomes, including reduced asthma and allergies. Optimization of school indoor air quality can provide benefits extending beyond mitigating communicable disease transmission. 

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Teachers and School Staff 

OAR 333-019-1030 continues to be in effect, and applies to anyone who is employed by, or volunteers in, a public school, private school, parochial school, or charter school, alternative educational program or school-based program or who is not employed but otherwise engaged to provide goods or services to a school or school-based program through any formal or informal agreement, whether compensated or uncompensated, and includes but is not limited to teachers, administrative staff, coaches, drivers, and volunteers. This rule applies to before/afterschool programs located at schools. Short-term visitors or individuals making deliveries are not subject to this rule. Individuals whose job or volunteer work never includes direct or indirect contact with students or children at the school are not covered by this rule.  

Individuals may request a medical or religious exception using the OHA form included in the Schools and School-Based Program Vaccine Rule Frequently Asked Questions. Schools that grant an exception to the vaccination requirement must take reasonable steps to ensure that unvaccinated teachers, school staff and volunteers are protected from contracting and spreading COVID-19. 

Attending school is a compulsory activity, unlike other activities that we choose to participate in. Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most effective ways to reduce the potential for severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID19. The risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 is rare in individuals who are fully vaccinated and is even rarer in those who are up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 infection has fallen significantly, but there is still protection from severe illness, hospitalization and death. Schools continue to be places that gather a largely unvaccinated population and are places where students who are immunosuppressed or medically complex attend to learn as well as experience belonging and connection with peers.  

Schools have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for every student. Staff and volunteers spend several hours per day, most days per week, in close contact with mostly unvaccinated children. That, along with the fact that universal masking is not currently required in most schools means the risk of transmission in schools is high when transmission in communities is high. Staff and volunteers who are vaccinated are better protected against severe disease and thus will have less time out of school. This means we are more likely to keep our schools doors open and serving students in-person. OHA is aware of worker shortages across the nation and does not have evidence that these shortages are caused by mask or vaccine requirements. OHA continually monitors COVID-19 variants, disease trends and vaccine effectiveness and believes the rule is still necessary to control COVID-19. 

As we look forward to the new school year with hope and optimism, we are honored to continue our collaboration and partnership with each of you, in service of Oregon’s students and school staff. What we have accomplished together since March 2020 is nothing short of extraordinary, and by continuing to work together and building on what we have learned, we can continue to create school spaces where students find meaning, purpose, connection and belonging for years into the future.  

Thank you for your thoughtful efforts as you make plans to keep schools healthy, safe and community connected. Please reach out to with any questions or for further support.