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A response to Omicron

PTS families,

The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education issued a School Health Advisory today (Jan. 3) that will remain in effect through Jan. 31, unless otherwise updated. This advisory is designed to prioritize the safety protocols needed to reliably return to full-time, in-person school for all students. Current modeling from OHSU shows that Oregon will likely experience a significant COVID-19 surge, driven by the Omicron variant, beginning in January and continuing through February. This surge is likely to be much steeper than the Delta variant surge we have experienced. We expect impacts on workforce stability in schools, hospitals, and other sectors. Hospitals may be impacted even more severely than they were in the fall.

We need your help to maintain in-person instruction in the Phoenix-Talent School District. When community spread increases, more COVID-19 is introduced in our schools and causes disruption of in-person learning due to quarantine and isolation. Here is how you can help:

  • If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, do not send them to school. Seek a COVID-19 test. COVID-19 symptoms can be found on page 9 of the Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools A Toolkit for School Leaders and Local Public Health Authorities.
  • Get vaccinated now if you’re not. Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and reduces the spread of the disease. Click here to find out where to get vaccinated in Jackson County.
  • Get boosted if you’re not. If you’re eligible for a booster, make your appointment today. Boosters provide an extra layer of protection needed to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

Families with school-age children and educators should limit gatherings and non-essential activities with people from other households to the extent possible throughout January and February. Before getting together with family, friends and loved ones, ask if attendees have received their COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters, and consider postponing visits if many attendees are not up to date with recommended doses. If you are visiting people from another household, you should wear a mask, maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet, and keep activities outdoors as much as possible.

You may be aware that the CDC made changes to the recommended quarantine and isolation guidance for exposed individuals. OHA officials are consulting with the CDC on what these changes mean for schools. More information will be forthcoming on the CDC’s changes.

The Phoenix-Talent School District will continue participating in extracurricular activities and those students who choose to participate will follow the same layered mitigation safety protocols practiced during the school day (use of face coverings, screening and diagnostic testing, encourage vaccination, frequent handwashing, etc.). The ODE and OHA have advised that as activities move indoors and individuals are unmasked, families should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning due to isolation for those that contract COVID-19 and lengthy quarantines for those that come into close contact with infected individuals.