SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Education updated its guidance for school reopening on Tuesday.
Local school districts have had the power to decide when to return students to in-person learning since Jan. 1, but the updates to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guide reach beyond that to help districts make informed decisions.
Updated advisory metrics now allow for in-person classes for elementary students at higher levels of community case rates than previously recommended.
A new requirement is that schools provide on-site COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students and staff members and for those who have had a known exposure to a positive case.
State officials say there are multiple new resources to support learning outside, field trips, equitable grading practices, attendance best practices, contact tracing partnerships, COVID-19 testing and more.
“We are providing school leaders with the information they need to make local decisions about returning to in-person instruction,” said ODE Director Colt Gill. “We all know that in-person instruction provides our children and families with access to an equitable education. Schools are a center of services to students and families, offering nutritious meals, access to social-emotional and mental health supports, as well as physical health services. This guidance provides new resources to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and better meet students’ needs in this time.”
Two critical factors should guide districts, state officials say: community case counts and rates remaining low enough and the ability to implement health and safety protocols diligently.
The new guidance takes effect immediately.