COVID Updates - January 7, 2022

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This week, our district has experienced a record number of COVID cases, as well as reports of family or community exposures that have necessitated quarantine for a significant number of our students and staff members. Information on this week’s reports can be viewed on our SSD Data Dashboard. Our school teams and District Office staff have worked diligently throughout the week in response to this situation, with many working in different locations or job roles to ensure that our schools were able to remain open, with students in our classrooms engaging in learning. This focus on our classrooms has impacted -- and may continue to impact -- other aspects of operations throughout our district, and we appreciate your patience with our staff as they continue to keep students at the forefront of their work.

Our Health Services Department staff have also been working extended hours to respond to the increased number of case reports we have received this week, making contact tracing calls to families throughout each day -- in addition to their regular responsibilities to tend to the daily health and safety needs of our students. Thank you to all of our families for extending grace and kindness when interacting with our nurses and health assistants -- they are truly our “front line” staff during this surge, and their COVID response efforts play a significant role in our ability to keep our schools open.

We are grateful to our SSD community for your continued understanding and patience as we navigate the challenges related to increased case reports and staff shortages. For more information, please review the additional updates below.

OHA/ODE Press Conference

On Thursday, January 6, the CDC updated its isolation and quarantine guidelines for K-12 schools. The CDC’s announcement was followed by a press conference held earlier today by the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education, in which they acknowledge the revised guidelines and the reality of challenges currently facing districts across the state.

We are awaiting confirmation from OHA, ODE, and Washington County Public Health that this is the direction they are advising schools to go and, if so, will implement the new guidelines at a date to be announced as soon as possible. Anyone who is impacted by COVID-19 will receive instructions about isolation and quarantine through our existing contact tracing process.

Any student or staff member currently out on quarantine or isolation must complete their original quarantine/isolation period.

COVID-19 Case Communications

In order to maximize our ability to effectively utilize limited staff resources, we will no longer be providing "heads-up" school-wide emails for each on-campus positive COVID-19 case. However, we continue to complete contact tracing on all cases that arise in the school setting and directly contact all families whose students are identified as potential close contacts, as well as impacted staff members.

Update on Test-to-Stay Program

Because of current staff shortages impacting all of our schools, our ability to implement the new Test-to-Stay program has been delayed. As a reminder, the Test-to-Stay program will allow unvaccinated students who were exposed to a COVID-positive case at school or on the bus and not experiencing symptoms to test negative and remain at school rather than quarantine at home. We are continuing to work on acquiring the PPE and testing equipment that are needed for program implementation in preparation for the upcoming program, and look forward to announcing the start of this program at the earliest opportunity.

Measures to Prioritize In-Person School

As we prioritize in-person instruction, we continue to ask all students, staff, and families to partner with our schools on the various health and safety measures in place. These measures include:

  • Use of face coverings in compliance with all current state mandates

  • Attention to physical distancing to the fullest extent possible

  • Frequent hand washing/sanitizing

  • At-home screening of symptoms for students and staff, and staying home when symptoms of illness are present

  • Our district continues to tend to additional preventative strategies in our facilities, including increased ventilation, limiting access of visitors or volunteers, and frequent cleaning and disinfection

We have also been contacted by families and staff looking for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster. For more information about vaccine and booster access in our area, please visit Washington County’s Vaccine Information website here.