Unmasked play dates bigger concern than classroom spread

Coronavirus

PPS set to return to class next week

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Schools across the region are welcoming students back to the classroom this week amid a surge in the delta variant and COVID cases.

Multnomah County Public Health Dr. Jennifer Vines said her biggest concern is students socializing outside of school and bringing infections into schools.

“I probably worry more about families socializing a lot, kids coming into school bringing infections from the community into the school,” Vines said.

She feels confident that the precautions in place, such as masking and distancing and mandating vaccines for educators, will help mitigate the spread within the classrooms.

“Families, everybody need to be limiting their socializing right now,” Vines said.

Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey said lunch is one of the biggest issues within schools. Many districts, like Portland Public Schools, are having students eat outdoors.

There is no threshold for a number that would force schools to switch from in-person learning to a hybrid or comprehensive distance model.

Last week, the Alsea School District, Culver School District and South Umpqua High School all pushed their return date back after an increase in COVID-19 cases. This surge, largely powered by the delta variant, has resulted in a number of teachers and school staff being exposed and infected.

On Tuesday, Neah Kah Nie School District announced a switch from in-person learning to comprehensive distance learning until case numbers and deaths start trending down.

All K-12 educators are under a vaccination mandate ordered by Gov. Kate Brown. The governor also said Oregon’s vaccination requirement for healthcare workers will no longer have a testing alternative.

Health care workers will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval, whichever is later. The governor said the state doesn’t have adequate resources to support the weekly testing option.

Portland Public Schools has released a guide for families as they head back to school.

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