School Health Advisory for Continuity of Instruction

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together
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August 31, 2022
Media Contacts:
ODE Communications Director Marc Siegel
OHA External Relations,


School Health Advisory for Continuity of Instruction

Advisory in effect statewide September 1, 2022

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) are partnering to prioritize the health and safety protocols needed to reliably provide full-time, in-person instruction for all students, every school day. We know our students learn best in-person, where they have access to community, critical support and services.

Schools are already using their School-level COVID-19 Management Plan to reduce the spread of communicable disease, including COVID-19 in school settings. Because schools are congregate settings, using layered mitigation strategies everyday can help schools remain open and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

ODE and OHA last issued a School Health Advisory on May 13, 2022. That advisory was in effect until August 31, 2022. This advisory is in direct response to the start of the 2022–23 school year and names actions that schools and families can take to reduce the spread of communicable disease throughout the year. This School Health Advisory does not have an expiration date. A new school health advisory may be issued or this advisory may be rescinded in response to increased risk or reduced risk in Oregon.

Today’s School Health Advisory is designed to help schools work with local partners to operate in-person during the entire school year.

The knowledge and operational experience school leaders have gained implementing layered mitigation strategies over the last two school years are key to maintaining in-person instruction. Implementing layered mitigation can prevent illness and keep students in school learning with teachers and staff. When school communities have illness rates that result in high numbers of staff and student absences, they should lean into the protection offered by layered mitigation safety protocols. When COVID-19 rates increase, districts and schools should maximize implementation of layered mitigation strategies, including recommending face coverings or implementing universal use of face coverings, prior to contemplating a move to remote instruction or other closure of in-person instruction.

As colder weather arrives, we will all be spending more time indoors where disease can spread more readily. The combined burden of COVID-19, flu and other respiratory viruses co-occurring in our communities means that schools will need to continue to be vigilant about health and safety to protect in-person instruction. The more focused we are now on health and safety protocols and communication, the better we can navigate seasonal changes together.

Staying up to date with vaccinations, including COVID-19, is the leading public health strategy to prevent severe disease. Not only does it provide individual-level protection, but high vaccination coverage reduces the burden of disease on people, schools, healthcare systems and communities. Promote COVID-19 vaccination by:

  • Sharing the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Hosting a vaccine clinic. Reach out to your Local Public Health Authority (LPHA) to begin the planning phase. In most cases your LPHA or your School Based Health Center can provide advice, vaccination services on site or match you with a partner who can assist.
  • Utilizing resources on How Schools Can Support COVID-19 Vaccination, which can assist in answering general questions, promoting vaccine confidence and making COVID-19 a teachable moment.

To maintain health and safety along with continuity of instruction this school year, OHA and ODE are issuing the following School Health Advisory, to remain in effect statewide through the end of the school year, unless otherwise updated or rescinded.

 For schools:

  1. Implement your School-level COVID-19 Management Plan to maintain operations while promoting equity in learning and health, particularly for groups who are at higher risk of severe illness or loss of access to education due to communicable disease.
    • Closely monitor COVID-19 transmission within your county through COVID-19 Community Levels. In alignment with CDC, ODE and OHA strongly advise universal masking in K–12 settings when COVID-19 Community Levels are high. At all levels, support individuals who choose to mask based on their individual risk assessment (e.g., increased risk for severe disease or family or community members at increased risk for severe disease).
    • As the presence of illness increases in your local community, implement additional layers of protection such as increased airflow and circulation, implement free COVID-19 testing programs, retrain staff on all protocols, and educate staff, students and families about COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Closely monitor unusual absenteeism or illness within a cohort and notify your LPHA about unusual respiratory disease activity if the following thresholds are met:
      • At the school level: ≥ 30% absenteeism, with at least 10 students/staff absent. 
      • At the cohort level: ≥ 20% absenteeism, with at least 3 students/staff absent.
    • Maximize implementation of layered mitigation strategies, including recommending face coverings or implementing universal use of face coverings before considering a shift to remote instruction or other modifications to in-person learning.
  2. Work with health partners to offer COVID-19 vaccination clinics and encourage eligible students and staff to get their vaccinations and boosters. More information about vaccinations can be found at Get Vaccinated Oregon.
    • The COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Teachers and School Staff (OAR 333-019-1030) remains unchanged for this school year. The school and school-based program vaccination rule applies to anyone who provides goods and services to schools at any time students or children are or may be present, including after regular school hours, unless they are a short-term visitor or a delivery person. As with health care workers, religious and medical exceptions apply. Schools and school-based programs that grant an exception to the vaccination requirement under this rule must take reasonable steps to ensure that unvaccinated teachers, staff and volunteers are protected from contracting and spreading COVID-19. Reasonable steps could include, but are not limited to, weekly testing, a fitted N95 mask, additional physical distancing, or an isolated worksite. Ensuring that all the adults around students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 adds another layer of protection for students as well. Consult OAR 333-019-1030 or the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
  3. If students or staff have COVID-like symptoms, schools must exclude the individual per OAR 333-019-0010 (3) & (4). Through OHA’s Diagnostic Testing Program schools may offer COVID testing to the individual or to a cohort which includes individuals at increased risk of severe disease using enhanced exposure testing.

 For families and community members:

We need your help to ensure our students have access to in-person instruction the entire school year. When illness spreads through our community, in-person instruction is at risk in our schools and classrooms. You can help:

  1. If your child is sick with COVID-like symptoms, do not send them to school.
  2. Seek a COVID-19 test. Contact your local school about a home testing kit or your local pharmacy. Testing is quick, easy and helps to reduce further person-to-person transmission by identifying people with infections so that they can isolate from others, thus protecting individuals at increased risk of severe disease.
    • If your child tests negative, call your school to report illness symptoms and learn when your child may return to school.
    • If your child tests positive for COVID-19, they need to stay home and isolate for at least 5 days.
  3. Students should get vaccinated and boosted when they become eligible.

 Future School Health Advisories

The impact of the actions listed above does not expire this school year thus this school health advisory does not have an expiration date. OHA and ODE will continue to issue School Health Advisories in response to increased risk or to identify additional actions families, schools, and/or communities should take to reduce the spread of disease and help schools stay open to in-person instruction. These advisories may be regional or statewide.

For more information on how your school is managing disease to ensure full-time, in-person instruction go to the School-Level COVID-19 Management Plans on the Planning for the 2022-23 School Year webpage.

Thank you for doing your part to ensure our students have consistent access to in-person instruction.