Salem-Keizer Public Schools considers the health and well-being of our students and staff a priority. When a positive case of COVID-19 is identified within the school setting, we work closely with the local public health authority to ensure that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 follows instructions for isolation and remains away from others until they can safely return to school.
Oregon Health Authority’s announcement today
Today, the Oregon Health Authority announced that they would soon release updated guidance for schools on contact tracing and for determining close contacts.
The new recommendations acknowledge that the layered safety protocols in K-12 schools have worked well to minimize transmission in these settings and that the vast majority of transmission has occurred following indoor unmasked contact.
This means that Oregon will no longer consider masked contact in K-12 settings (including on school buses) to be an exposure regardless of distancing.
This change will allow Salem-Keizer to focus resources on identifying high-risk indoor unmasked exposures most likely to result in transmission. OHA and the Oregon Department of Education are recommending that schools concentrate contact tracing and notification resources on exposures that occur during mealtimes (when students are necessarily unmasked) and on exposures during indoor unmasked learning or extracurricular activities (such as band, welding, wrestling).
Adjustments to the notification process
In all cases of exposures within high-risk environments, individuals will be notified of an exposure through ParentSquare. This notification will include directions to the family on next steps. In unique circumstances, families may receive a call from a Salem-Keizer staff member.
In addition, only close contacts who are identified within five days of their date of exposure (the current quarantine requirement) will be notified.
Because of the volume, some close contact identification will rely on staff observation rather than an investigatory process with a school nurse.
Families will continue to receive a weekly notification about COVID cases in schools with a link to the COVID-19 dashboard on Saturdays.
Continued diligence in following safety protocols
In all district settings, we will be diligent in ensuring that staff and students continue to be good stewards of our safety protocols such as not coming to school sick, wearing a face covering correctly, distancing, and hand washing, which are in addition to regular cleaning in buildings and optimized ventilation.
Additional updates coming
We are taking multiple steps to provide you with the best information to make health and safety decisions for your students, including the following:
- Daily attendance rates of schools are now posted to the district website’s COVID-19 dashboard. Monitoring the daily attendance at your child’s school can help you understand the amount of illness in your school community.
- COVID-19 positive case numbers will be updated weekly on our COVID-19 dashboard.
- You will receive notifications through ParentSquare if your student was identified as a close contact. This notification will include directions on next steps.
- We have ordered at-home test kits for students and they should arrive in the coming weeks.
- We will send weekly reminders about the attendance data and COVID-19 dashboard.
- We will continue close contact investigations in high-risk settings and settings where students are not able to wear face coverings.