This past year and a half has been difficult for many of our students, families, faculty and school staff. We can’t thank you enough for your patience and resilience as we get through this pandemic together.
This web page offers updated information and resources for parents, students and school staff to address common questions and concerns, as well as inform about new guidelines.
Kudos to our students, parents and teachers for adapting to these circumstances with such courage and grace. This pandemic has had challenges, and we will continue to meet them together. Together we can keep each other safe while preparing our next generation to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
School Reopening Criteria and Clackamas County COVID-19 Data
As part of its planned guidance and metrics review process with the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Education released the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 School Year on June 25, 2021.
The Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework becomes effective on June 30, 2021, and replaces the Ready Schools, Safe Learners: Guidance for School Year 2020-21 version 7.5.2 issued on May 28, 2021. In July, the framework will be updated with additional links and resources to support schools during the upcoming school year.
The vast majority of health and safety measures in this framework are advisory and offered to schools to support successful full-time, in-person instruction. Schools may choose whether to consider or implement advised safety measures. Clackamas County’s recommendations align with those outlined in the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 school year.
Clackamas County awaits further guidance from the state, and whether vaccinations will be approved for younger children, to determine how we’ll approach school for younger students in 2021-22.
New variants of COVID-19 have demonstrated increased transmissibility, even among children and young adults. If you are not fully vaccinated, it is important to continue to wear masks, remain physically distant, and practice proper hand hygiene. Our best defense against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Pfizer vaccines have now been approved for kids aged 12 and older. Even if you don’t feel you are at risk for COVID-19, getting the vaccine will help protect your family, friends and overarching school community.
Oregon public health rules require individual schools to continue to work with local public health officials in responding to cases or outbreaks and, if necessary, switch back to distance learning. Parents and families need to be prepared to return to distance learning, as well.
The best way to protect your kids aged 12 and over is to get them vaccinated. The best tools to protect kids under 12 years of age are vaccines (for their family members and the general public), physical distancing, masks and good hygiene.
County public health officials continue to work with the 170 schools in Clackamas County to ensure safe practices and protocols to allow for safe on-site learning. These safe practices and protocols include:
- Physical distancing
- Hand hygiene
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Airflow and ventilation
- Effective screening and response to cases, with quick access to testing and implementation of isolation and quarantine
Each school is required to develop and periodically submit an operational plan to the Oregon Department of Education, outlining their plans for adhering to the practices listed above and safely returning students to the classroom for the 2021-22 school year.
A 14-day quarantine is recommended for all unvaccinated close contacts in any setting, including schools. Close contacts with no symptoms may be permitted to end quarantine after a minimum of 10 days, while continuing to monitor closely for symptoms for the full 14 days.
While the CDC presents a third option of ending quarantine seven days post-exposure with a negative COVID test on day five or later, local public health authorities are ultimately responsible for establishing local quarantine guidelines. In an effort to maintain the lowest risk of transmission possible, Clackamas County does not recommend this option.
Only those who are fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks after the second dose in a 2-dose series, or at least 2 weeks after one dose of a single-dose vaccine) will not have to quarantine. Fully vaccinated close contacts should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and isolate if they develop symptoms.
If an outbreak occurs in a school, students and staff need to quarantine if they have had an exposure, or close contact, with someone with confirmed or possible COVID-19.
In alignment with recommendations from the CDC, there is an exception from quarantine in the K-12 indoor classroom setting. This exception states that students who were at least 3 feet away from an infected student, where all involved students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting face coverings, are not considered close contacts and would not have to quarantine. This exception does not apply:
- To teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting;
- When face coverings are not consistently and properly worn by all involved students;
- When at least 3 feet of physical distancing is not consistently maintained; and
- To any other setting outside of the indoor classroom. For instance, this exception does not apply to buses.
In other K-12 settings or when face coverings are not properly worn by all involved students in the indoor classroom setting, someone is considered “exposed” if they have been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for at least 15 minutes with or without masks.* Close contact can also include caring for, living with, visiting or sitting within 6 feet of the confirmed or possible COVID-19 case.
*The 15 minutes do not need to be continuous; they can accumulate throughout the day. For example, 5 minutes in the morning in close contact with a COVID-19 case and then 10 minutes during lunch in close contact with a COVID-19 case would qualify as close contact.
Masking in Schools
On September 3rd, 2021, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) amended OAR 333-019-1015 to require face coverings in all K-12 indoor school settings, and in all outdoor K-12 school settings when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained between individuals. This rule applies to public, private, parochial, charter, youth corrections education programs, and juvenile detention education programs or alternative educational programs offering kindergarten through grade 12 or any part thereof.
The rule requires all individuals five years of age and older to wear a face covering while indoors in a K-12 school setting, regardless of vaccination status, when:
- At school during regular school hours;
- Engaged in educational activities, such as field trips or off-campus classes, during regular school hours; and/or
- At school engaged in educational activities outside of regular school hours.
Additionally, this rule requires all individuals five years of age and older to wear a face covering while outdoors in a K-12 school setting, regardless of vaccination status, when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. This includes, but is not limited to: athletic events, performances and open houses and school carnivals.
Despite masks being required for all individuals as described above, it is important to note masks are NOT a substitute for physical distancing. Layering additional health and safety measures against COVID-19 in addition to masking (such as maintaining at least 3 feet of physical distance) is still highly recommended to protect students and staff.
A face covering will not have to be worn when an individual is:
- Actively eating or drinking;
- Playing a musical instrument that requires using the mouth;
- Engaged in a sport during physical education class such as swimming, other water sports, or one where wearing a face covering could be a strangulation hazard such as gymnastics or wrestling;
- Is in a private, individual workspace;
- Is under five years of age (unless the individual is riding public transportation, like a school bus, in which case individuals two years of age and older are required to wear a face covering); and/or
- Is practicing or playing a competitive sport at any level.
Child care and youth programs will continue to follow existing OHA mask guidance.
Note that under the statewide masking requirements for indoor and outdoor spaces (OAR 333-019-1025), masks or face coverings must be worn during events that occur after regular school hours like school board meetings, parent teacher conferences, staff meetings, etc. This applies to all individuals 5 years and older, regardless of vaccination status.
For more information on the K-12 mask rule, visit: https://secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/viewSingleRule.action?ruleVrsnRsn=280434
For more information on the statewide masking requirements for indoor and outdoor spaces, visit: https://secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/viewSingleRule.action?ruleVrsnRsn=280702
COVID-19 and Your Mental Health
Even if you are struggling just a little bit, Clackamas Safe+Strong can help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-655-8585. You can schedule free, confidential services at 503-722-6200 from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
YouthLine is a free, confidential teen-to-teen crisis and help line. No problem is too big or too small for the YouthLine. Teens are available to help daily from 4-10pm PST. Adults are available by phone at all other times. YouthLine listens, supports, and maintains your confidentiality.
Call 1-877-968-8491 Text ‘teen2teen’ to 839863
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is an awesome resource and a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth to reach out for 24/7 support.
Call 1-866-488-7386 or text ‘START’ to 678-678
For Adults Who Support Young People
Oregon Family Support Network
Oregon Family Support Network has family support specialists who can work with you and support you from a position of lived experience raising children with behavioral, emotional or mental health challenges.
Reach Out Oregon
Reach Out Oregon offers many different ways (phone, text, a discussion forum, online Zoom discussion groups) to connect with a community of parents with lived experience of raising children with behavioral, emotional or mental health challenges.
Safe and Strong
Safe and Strong has resources to get through COVID-19 safely so you, your family and our communities stay strong.
To learn more about your school district’s plan for reopening for the 2021-22 school year, please see your school district’s website.
- Ensuring Equity and Access Guidance
- Communicable Disease Guidance for Schools
- Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) Guidance (as of Jan. 19, 2021)
- Guidance for Limited In-Person Instruction During CDL
- Oregon Department of Education (ODE) news release
- Research Informing Changes in K-12 COVID-19 Guidance
Additional Tools and Resources
- Addressing Grades and Credit Options
- Attendance Best Practices
- Contact Tracing Guidance
- COVID-19 Testing in Oregon's K-12 Schools
- Face Coverings and FAPE Supplemental Guidance
- Mask guidance
- OHA Guidance for On-Site Testing
- Update to Returning to In-Person Instruction family resource (translations to be posted as soon as available)
- Youth Program Guidance