Updated CDC Guidance for Schools; Reminder: School-level COVID-19 Management Plan due August 26

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To: Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, Private School Leaders, Communicable Disease Preparedness Liaisons, School Nurses, Principals, Public Information Officers 
From: Kati Moseley, Resiliency Manager
Date: August 19, 2022 
Re: Updated CDC Guidance for Schools; Reminder: School-level COVID-19 Management Plan due August 26

Dear Partners,

This message is a reminder of the required School-level COVID-19 Management Plan due before the start of the district's school year or by August 26, whichever is sooner.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an update to their COVID-19 guidance for schools on August 11. The updated guidance aligns with the shifts the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) made to school protocols in the spring of 2022 and emphasizes a school’s role in promoting education and health equity, particularly for groups who are at higher risk of severe illness or loss of access to education due to COVID-19. Schools and districts across Oregon have been implementing COVID-19 protocols in alignment with this CDC update since spring of 2022.

School Year 2022-2023 COVID-19 Plan Requirements

On April 28, ODE shared requirements for the 2022-23 school year under Section 2001(i)(1) of the ARP ESSER and the U.S. Department of Education’s Interim Final Requirements for Safe Return to In Person Instruction & Continuity of Services Plan. 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 regarding readiness of schools to respond to increased COVID-19 transmission during the school year. Assurances are due to ODE before the start of the district's school year or by August 26, whichever is sooner.

Template, Instructions & Tools:

ODE, OHA and the Oregon School Nurses Association (OSNA) co-developed this template, instructions and tools as a guide to school-level COVID-19 management planning for the 2022-23 school year. As part of every school-level plan, schools will reference their districts communicable disease management plan (CDMP) required under OAR 581-022-2220. The CDMP alone does not fulfill the school-level COVID-19 management plan. While districts, schools, or programs may use a format that best supports planning and alignment locally, each must ensure that the plan includes the content laid out in the template’s three sections:

  1. Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities.
  2. Equity and Mental Health Supports: Preparing a plan which centers equity and mental health supports.
  3. COVID-19 Outbreak Prevention, Response, & Recovery: Implementing mitigation activities, responding to increases in transmission, resuming regular activities, and debriefing actions to improve processes.

Technical Support

A recording of the May 2, 2022, Ready Schools Safe Learners office hours is available which reviews this requirement, gives an overview of the COVID-19 Management Plan template and answers questions about the process. New tabletop training tools are also available for schools to use when practicing the plan with additional training tools scheduled for release in the coming weeks. Additionally, representatives from your Education Service District (ESD) are offering support for fall planning. Please reach out to your ESD representative or to ODECOVID19@ode.state.or.us with any questions.

CDC School Guidance Update

On August 11, the CDC updated their operational guidance for schools to support safe, in-person instruction while managing the spread of COVID-19. The updated guidance is further aligned with the changes in school COVID-19 recommendations released by OHA/ODE in the spring of 2022 and emphasize a school's role in promoting equity in learning and health, particularly for groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Schools will continue to make local decisions, based on local conditions to prevent and manage the spread of communicable diseases, including COVID-19 by utilizing layered mitigation strategies including:

  • Monitoring CDC COVID-19 Community Levels and local outbreaks, which helps schools make decisions about what prevention strategies to use based on the level of COVID-19 in their community. School administrators should work with local health officials to consider other local conditions and factors when deciding to implement prevention strategies.
  • Ventilation continues to be identified as an essential tool in reducing the risk of germs and contaminants spreading through the air. The CDC continues to point schools to available funding streams that can support improvements in ventilation, repairs, upgrades and replacements in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and the purchase of MERV-13 air filters.
  • Wearing a face covering reduces the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC, OHA and ODE strongly recommend that schools implement universal indoor face coverings in schools during periods of high COVID-19 transmission. When individuals choose to continue to wear face coverings at school, administrators, teachers and staff should support them by creating an environment where individual decisions to wear a face covering are honored.

ODE has created a webpage with tools and resources for planning for the 2022-23 school year. These include the school-level COVID-19 management plan template, instructions and tools and the revised communicable disease guidance for schools, both are designed to support school decision-making to keep students and staff safe, healthy and learning in-person.

Thank you for your ongoing effort and partnership in the coming school year, as we hone our collective focus on health, safety, well-being and connection in Oregon's schools.

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