COVID Updates - March 3, 2022

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Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Education released an update to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework, which will take effect on March 12, 2022. District leadership will be thoroughly reviewing this guidance update in the coming days, and working closely with staff members in preparation for implementation of all changes to our COVID-19 procedures, as well as hosting a discussion of these changes with our Board of Directors on March 9, 2022.

While we will continue to share more details with you in the coming days, below are highlights of the changes you can expect to see effective March 12, under this guidance update.

Lifting of Mask Mandate

As announced earlier this week, effective March 12, 2022 existing indoor mask mandates for both general public and K-12 school settings will move from required to recommended status. Our district’s Board of Directors took action on August 4, 2022 to indicate that, once required mask mandates were lifted, the Sherwood School District would move forward with an optional mask rule. Based on this previous Board action, and pending no further county-level mandates from the local public health authority, our district will move forward with an optional mask rule once the current mandate ends effective March 12. This will include all school settings as well as school buses. Please note that the current mask mandate remains in effect until 11:59pm on March 11, and masks are still required in indoor K-12 settings and school buses until that time.

Changes in state mask requirements are also aligned with the newest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, which now provide specific mask recommendations based on identified COVID-19 Community Levels. Families and staff may choose to utilize this guidance as they make individual decisions about mask use once optional. Currently, Washington County is at a medium risk level. For more information about CDC COVID-19 Community Levels, including weekly updates for Washington County’s risk level, please click here.

We recognize that once the use of masks becomes optional, some members of our school community may continue wearing masks at school as they determine the appropriate health and safety measures for their own level of risk. The Sherwood School District will continue to make PPE available to students and staff as requested, and will take steps to ensure the school environment is safe and welcoming to every student and staff member, honoring each individual’s decisions around COVID-19. There will be no tolerance for verbal taunts or harassing behaviors based on how people make a decision regarding their own personal health. We appreciate that our community chooses to model respectful, civil and safe engagement with one another.

Contact Tracing, Quarantine, and Isolation

Effective March 12, 2022, Oregon will pause contact tracing and quarantine for the general population, including K-12 settings. This means that students and staff exposed to positive cases are no longer required to participate in a post-exposure quarantine, regardless of vaccine status. Our district will be adapting our communication protocols to provide general notifications to families and staff when a potential exposure has occurred within the school community. Please watch for additional information next week with more details on how this communication process will work going forward.

As per communicable disease protocols, students and staff with primary COVID-19 symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test result will continue to be excluded from school for a 5-day isolation period. Students and staff may return to school/work following 5 days of isolation if the individual has been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and has overall symptom improvement.

Testing Protocols

Our district will continue to provide access to diagnostic testing at the school level for students and staff who develop primary COVID-19 symptoms while on campus. Testing can also be provided to high-risk individuals, such those who are medically fragile, following a potential exposure on campus. We are awaiting additional updates for testing-specific guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, and will provide more information about our testing protocols in next week’s COVID update communication.

Physical Distancing

The Oregon Department of Education continues to strongly advise that schools support physical distancing in daily activity and instruction, striving for at least three feet between students to the extent possible. Our district will continue to implement this distancing recommendation to the fullest extent possible as an ongoing mitigation strategy to reduce exposure to COVID-19 in our schools.