ONTARIO — According to a recent health advisory report on Jan. 3, Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education partnered to prioritize the safety protocols needed to reliably return to full-time, in-person learning for all students. As a result, ODE issued the school health advisory for the month of January in response to the rapid transmission of the Omicron variant in recent weeks, according to a newsletter released by Vale Superintendent Alisha McBride.
“As Oregon fully experiences the impacts of the Omicron variant over the next several weeks, student access to in-person instruction is under serious threat. While early data indicate that the Omicron variant may result in less severe disease than previous variants, it is increasingly clear that the Omicron variant spreads much more quickly and easily than all previous variants,” as mentioned in the school health advisory issued by the ODE and OHA.
Consequently, as students return to school from winter break, Vale schools will be utilizing a multitude of health and safety protocols to protect in-person learning, along with extracurricular activities, according to McBride’s newsletter.
The health and safety protocols include, requiring face coverings indoors, encouraging frequent hand washing, encouraging physical distancing, following cleaning and disinfecting protocols, providing access to COVID-19 testing, and excluding individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms—cough, temperature of 100.4 F or higher, chills, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or a new loss of taste or smell.
Additionally, ODE’s report states that, “If schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors and individuals are unmasked, they should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning due to isolation for those that contract COVID-19 and lengthy quarantines for those that come into close contact with infected individuals.” As the report continued to mention, “This risk should be clearly communicated to families participating in these extracurricular activities.”
Overall, the Vale School District’s goal is to maintain in-person instruction and allow students to continue to engage in extracurricular activities while prioritizing the health and safety of the students, staff, and community, according to the news release from the Vale School District.