• How Do We Respond to Potential COVID-19 Infections? Here Are PPS's Communicable Disease Response Protocols

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    Dear PPS Families and Students,

    We share your concern about the continuing transmission of COVID-19 in our community and remain deeply committed to keeping our students, families, staff, and community healthy and safe. Portland Public Schools plays a critical role as a partner to county and state health authorities in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We take seriously our responsibility to monitor and communicate every on-site COVID case we become aware of, so that we too can do our part to limit the spread of the virus by asking students and adults to isolate and/or quarantine[1] from others.

    All on-site positive COVID-19 cases and close contacts are investigated as unique events in partnership with our public health partners. The following COVID-19 related scenarios will provide a better understanding of the district response to COVID-19 related events and support to the impacted students and families. 

    Scenario 1: My student starts showing symptoms of illness while they are at school. 

    If your student starts showing symptoms of COVID-19 or becomes ill,

    • Staff will help move your student to the “Symptom Space” where further screening will take place by the school nurse, health assistant or designated trained staff.
    • If we have received your written permission to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test, and your student is able to self-swab their nose, the test will be completed.
    • School staff will immediately notify the student’s family that their student will need to be picked up from school regardless of the outcome of the test, due to excludable symptoms of illness.
    • We will provide you with your student’s rapid COVID-19 test results and will follow the “return to school” guidance for your child.
    • If you have not signed the consent to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test, we will contact you and ask that your child is picked up due to excludable illness being present.


    If you want a rapid COVID-19 test administered to your student if they show symptoms or become ill while in school, and have not completed a signed consent form, please complete and submit to your student’s school:

    Scenario 2: My student tested positive for COVID-19.

    • If you become aware that your student has tested positive for COVID-19, we ask that you immediately call your school to inform them about the test results and keep your child home from school.
    • School staff will follow the Communicable Disease Response Protocol to determine potential close contacts[2] based on the information gathered through the contact tracing process. The identity of the student will remain confidential.
    • Schools will directly notify you by phone if your student was potentially exposed and meets the criteria for close contact. You will be asked to quarantine and will be provided with an exposed notification letter with a return to school date. Additional information, supports, and resources will be made available to you and your student as well.
    • Schools will send a general notice to all staff and school community regarding a positive case onsite.
    • Schools will ensure students receive continuous learning support during their isolation/ quarantine period and will welcome students back once they return.

    Scenario 3: Family becomes aware that their student has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the community.

    • If you become aware that your student was in close contact with someone with COVID-19, we ask that you call your school to inform them about the exposure and keep your child home from school.
    • School staff will follow the Communicable Disease Response Protocol.
    • If confirmed, your student will be asked to quarantine from the last date of exposure anywhere from 10 days for an exposure outside of the home or more for students living with a positive individual at home.
    • Schools will ensure students receive continuous learning support during their quarantine period based on the needs of the student and will welcome the student back once they return.

    Scenario 4: I heard about a possible COVID-19 case in my student’s classroom or school.

    • Schools will investigate each presumed positive case and notify potentially exposed individuals, providing support and resources as needed, as well as quarantine and return to school information.

    Due to confidentiality considerations, your school will not notify specific classrooms but will only provide information at the school level.

    These four scenarios represent four typical occurrences across our schools. For more information on the guidance from ODE please see Planning for COVID-19 Scenarios in Schools. This resource was prepared by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) with additional input from local public health authorities (LPHA), school nurses, and school leaders to support school staff’s ability to respond well to COVID-19 related illness events. This document outlines some critical steps and offers an overview of decision points, but it does not replace medical expertise, epidemiologist knowledge, or practical solutions in local schools. Each school leader will need to continually evaluate the response to outbreak protocols, update plans, and balance health and safety with core instructional needs for schools.

    [1]Definitions: QUARANTINE keeps someone who was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 away from others. ISOLATION keeps someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 without symptoms away from others, even in their own home.

    [2]Definitions: CLOSE CONTACT, for K–12 settings in alignment with CDC guidance released in July 2021. There is now an exception to the exposure definition (having been within 6 feet of a confirmed or presumptive COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more within one day) for the K–12 indoor classroom setting: students who were within 3 to 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 where both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting masks and other K–12 school prevention strategies (such as universal and correct mask use, physical distancing, increased ventilation) were in place are not considered exposed. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults.