State health agencies say safety protocols are very critical at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic.
After Oregon’s education and health agencies asked schools to suspend extracurricular activities or keep the same rules in place that are followed during the school day, Estacada School District leaders said that activities would continue with masks.
In a school health advisory Monday, Jan. 3, the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority warned of the impact the omicron variant of COVID-19 could have on schools. and called layered mitigation strategies like vaccinations, boosters, frequent hand washing, masks and distancing in schools “more critical now than at any other time during this pandemic.”
State agencies are asking schools to suspend extracurricular activities or keep in place the same rules followed during the school day, such as wearing masks.
“If schools and other organizations conduct extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors and individuals are unmasked, they should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 which will prevent students from participating in in-person learning due to isolation for those who contract COVID -19 and lengthy quarantines for those who come into close contact with infected individuals,” the health warning message warns. “This risk must be clearly communicated to families participating in these extracurricular activities.”
“At this time, like in other districts, we will continue with athletics. We recognize the importance of extracurricular activities for students, and we want to maintain them,” Kelly said, noting that the district would comply with all state mandates and departmental health agencies.
At Estacada, those participating in athletics or other extracurricular activities are required to wear a mask unless actively exercising.
Kelly said the district has not seen a significant amount of COVID-19 spread on campus and the majority of positive cases have come from off-campus exposures. Coming into the winter break, the district has seen an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, but Kelly noted that usually happens after school breaks.
“If (the spread on campus) changes with omicron, we will speak with public health and determine where to go,” she said.
She described continuing to offer extracurricular activities as a “partnership”.
“We understand the importance of in-person curricular and extracurricular activities. They’re such a vital part of the educational experience and we want to continue with them, but it’s a partnership,” Kelly said, encouraging families to keep the sick students. home, notify the district of any exposure to COVID-19 and honestly complete the daily screening questionnaire.
Journalist Courtney Vaughn contributed to this story.
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