North Santiam School District
Message from Superintendent Gardner
October 5, 2021
As we move into our second month of school, we are pleased that schools have so far not been forced into Comprehensive Distance Learning by outbreaks. We are continuing to monitor each school closely as we look for signs of spread. We thank all parents who’ve opted into the free weekly saliva screening. We have 125 students enrolled so far and participation grows each week. The State’s case rates have begun to decrease slightly since late August, although each Oregon County may have a different reality; some are increasing. The onset of fall weather will move students inside more, and as we continue through October we ask for parents to continue to be vigilant.
Parents have had many questions about quarantines, exclusions, and isolations for their kids. We understand that parents are frustrated and empathize that each quarantine likely creates stress for the entire family. We ask that parents understand that COVID is circulating broadly in our community and that it will not go away. There is a likelihood that your student may be exposed to COVID while attending school or co-curricular events more than once. Wastewater sampling in Marion County continues to indicate a high level of the virus throughout the county.
Many have asked what the District’s process is to determine who may need to quarantine. When notified of a COVID-19 positive case the first step is to confirm it with the Marion Co Health Dept. Once confirmed, we obtain seating charts and information for the classroom or areas involved. Follow-up interviews are conducted with staff and students as needed to clarify. Parents are then notified by text, phone and email of the quarantine dates. The Marion County Health Dept. does not currently support the option to test out of quarantine early.
OHA/Marion Co Health Dept guidelines for “close contacts” states that non-vaccinated individuals within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual for a cumulative time of 15 mins in 24 hours must quarantine. Exception: In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition has been modified to exclude students who were 3 or more feet away from an infected student as long as both students correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. If asymptomatic, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine. They should still monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure and if symptoms develop, they should isolate and seek testing.
Supporting your student in having a mask that they can consistently wear correctly is crucial to help them avoid quarantines as much as possible. "Correctly fitting" is described as one that covers the nose and the mouth and rests snugly above the nose. Frequent washing of masks is also important. Limiting social contact during non-school hours (where mask wearing is unlikely) is also advised. While we had 37 students in quarantine last week due to school exposures, there were numerous other students in quarantine due to exposures within their social circles.
While we respect any family’s beliefs and decision to not vaccinate, we ask that you give thought to the eight months of school remaining and the continued risk of multiple exposures and the subsequent impact of multiple quarantines. Students 12 and older are eligible now to be vaccinated and those between 5-11 may be eligible as early as next month.
Another thing the District would like parents to be aware of is students who get COVID and have a laboratory-confirmed positive test won't need to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID again within the subsequent 90 days (they do need to monitor for symptoms). If you suspect your child might have COVID-19 there is a benefit to testing for an official diagnosis. Home tests do not qualify for this quarantine exemption.
Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone again for their vigilance in reporting symptoms and confirmed cases to us. We are only as good as the information we receive and the ability to track cases quickly has greatly limited the spread of the virus on our campuses. Our nurses are working long days and we appreciate their tireless efforts. We must remain committed to these actions to avoid any class or school shutdowns, especially as the opportunities to be outside begin to diminish. Thank you for your time and have a great week.
October 4, 2021
NSSD Weekly COVID Report
To view the data on the District website, click on the dashboard photo
Optional Weekly COVID Screening
>>>Reminder for those already enrolled - test samples are due at school drop boxes by noon every Tuesday. Please include your student's full name and date of birth instead of initials as previously indicated. Also, don't forget to pick up more testing kits at your school office. If you signed up during open houses, your supply may be low<<<
The District has opted into the free, optional screening program offered to all Oregon K-12 students by the Oregon Health Authority. This is a weekly saliva at-home COVID screening test that parents can opt into. Participation in the program and all results are confidential, however, positive COVID-19 results must be reported to the local public health authority for case investigation and contact tracing. Parents can find more info and the consent form on the District Website or by emailing Santiam Hospital at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note this is only a screening program. Parents who wish to test their child as the result of contact tracing or an onset of symptoms will need to contact their health care provider. As more testing sites become available locally, we will send more information.
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Should they go or should they stay?
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Contact Tracing/Quarantine Information
Classroom Setting Contact Tracing
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Dept of Education (ODE) have accepted the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to create an exception to the 6 feet distancing guidance for K-12 settings (for students only). A student who is within 3 to 6 feet of someone with COVID but both were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting masks is not considered "exposed" and therefore not generally subject to quarantine. In classroom settings, non-vaccinated students that are less than 3 feet for more than 15 minutes of a positive case must quarantine. Fully vaccinated students generally only need to monitor for symptoms and do not need to quarantine (unless they develop symptoms).
Lunch Contact Tracing
Since students who are eating cannot "engage in consistent use of masks", the exception indicated above cannot be applied during meal service. This causes the distancing guidance for contact tracing to reset back to six feet. The reality is most schools, NSSD included, do not have the space, time or staff available to seat students at this distance, so there is an acknowledged increased chance during meal service that students may be exposed and therefore, quarantined. We will continue to evaluate our processes in order to mitigate quarantines as much as is safely and feasibly possible.
Bus Contact Tracing
Current guidance from OHA and ODE does not allow for the aforementioned 3 feet social distancing exception to be applied to students on school buses. This requires that all students within a 6 foot radius of a positive case on a bus be subject to quarantine, unless fully vaccinated.
Notification of Need to Quarantine
The Marion County Health Department has provided strict guidelines for schools to follow to determine if any individuals are considered a "close contact" to a positive case and whether or not quarantines are warranted. District nurses work closely with Marion Co. representatives when reviewing each case for potential exposure. If quarantines are deemed necessary, notifications are then sent through the District’s messenger service which provides an automated phone call, email and text message to parents/guardians. District nurses are available for follow-up questions or concerns at the phone numbers and email addresses provided.