Oregon releases updated guidelines for COVID-19 scenarios in schools

Coronavirus

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Updated guidelines for Oregon students returning to reopened schools amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic revealed a scenario toolkit for educators to follow in case of an outbreak, including going back to online learning as they quarantine in case a classmate tests positive.

The Oregon Department of Education’s updated guidance for the 2020-2021 academic year was released on Tuesday, and lays out multiple scenarios for when students, teachers or staff fall ill or test positive for COVID-19.

The impact of even one positive case could affect those outside of class, state officials said, including if someone rode on the same bus as an infected person or if someone’s sibling falls ill.

The ODE developed the Ready Schools, Safe Learners plan under the direction of Gov. Kate Brown and in collaboration with the Oregon Health Authority.

Currently, most of the state’s largest school districts expect distance learning for most students until at least November; the exact plan depends on the number of COVID-19 cases in the state and by county.

ODE’s updated guidelines on Tuesday gave rural and remote area schools more flexibility to open sooner in areas where there are no virus cases. There was also an update to safety protocols for on-site learning, including that face coverings are preferred over face shields, but face shields remain acceptable in some settings.

However, in the Portland metro area, parents still have lots of questions, including why school schedules are still in flux and whether teachers will be remote from their classroom or at home. KOIN 6 News learned much of these details are still being negotiated between teachers and school districts.

The toolkit plans for each scenario possible when a student or staff become sick:

  • Exposure Scenarios: Refers to a student or staff member exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Becomes Ill Scenarios: Refers to a student or staff member who becomes ill with COVID-19 either after no contact with a person with COVID-19 symptoms or after close contact with a person with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Tests Positive Scenarios: Refers to one or more student or staff member having a positive COVID-19 test, including the action necessary if in the same or different cohorts.
  • Tests Negative Scenarios: Refers to an ill student or staff member who has a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Does not get Tested Scenarios: Refers to a student or staff member who does not get tested in response to specific events.

You can read the full guidance and more about each scenario here. School leaders and health officials will rely on the toolkit should an outbreak happen in their institution. It also gives guidance about how to communicate to parents, staff and students about the possible outbreak.

Read all of the updated guidelines here.

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