• Important Information on Updates to PPS’s COVID-19 Response

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    Dear PPS Community,

    Today we want to offer you an update on the protocols we are using. We are regularly evaluating and revising these protocols to minimize risk for our students and staff as we deal with the rapid changes driven by the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

    From the beginning of the pandemic, PPS has been guided by public health to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our school communities. We regularly meet with public health experts, and collaborate with the Multnomah County Health Department, the Oregon Health Authority and our regional school district counterparts, to align and update our COVID-19 response protocols. Over the last few weeks, PPS and districts in the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) have updated our protocols. As a reminder, below is a summary of these changes:

    Contact Tracing:  
    Schools have been advised to change course on contact tracing. Oregon no longer considers masked contact in schools (including on school buses) to be an exposure regardless of distancing. 

     Multnomah County school districts met on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, and agreed to prioritize Contact Tracing for exposures in the following settings as indicated by Multnomah Public Health as elevated risk:

    • Unmasked indoor athletics and extracurricular activities;
    • Classroom settings for students with disabilities where universal masking is not consistent and social distancing is not possible; 
    • Band classrooms where universal masking is not consistent and when instrument bell covers are not used.
    • Pre-K, Head Start, and child care. 

    Because our capacity to contact trace is limited, these four settings will be prioritized over potential lunchtime exposures.

    Quarantine and Isolation: 
    In alignment with Multnomah County Health Department's new guidelines, we updated the quarantine and isolation guidance:

    • If you are positive for COVID-19 (regardless of vaccination status), you need to isolate at home for at least five days. Day 1 is the first day following a positive test or the development of symptoms. Students ages 5 years and younger must isolate for 10 days as explained below.
    • After the initial five days, you may return to school if you have been fever free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication, and any other symptoms you are experiencing must be improving.
    • After these five days, those individuals ready to return to school or work will need to continue wearing a mask (consistently) for five additional days; this consistent masking should be applied in AND out of school. 
    • If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you may need to quarantine depending on your COVID-19 vaccination status. If you are up-to-date on your vaccinations (including boosters for adults – see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of up-to-date), you DO NOT have to quarantine if you remain without symptoms.  Reminder: In a general public setting, “exposed” (also called close contact) means spending at least 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone over the course of a day, with or without a mask. 
    • PK/Head Start students must quarantine for 10 days due to inconsistent mask use by the students and breaks in mask use throughout the day (ie. meal, naptime, etc), lack of social distancing, duration of time together under such circumstances, and lack of access to vaccines for students ages 5 years and younger.

    School Community Notification of Possible Positive COVID-19 Case onsite:
    Last week we shared with our community that PPS families would “no longer get a notification if your student is a close contact, unless exposure occurs during unmasked situations.” While we will no longer notify if a student is a close contact, we will notify and inform families if an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 was on-site during their contagious period. We appreciate hearing from many of you about the importance of continuing to receive notifications if there were any possible COVID-19 cases onsite.  

    Test to Stay Program - no longer applicable in most instances:
    Given the changes to contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine guidelines, “Test to Stay” is no longer applicable in most instances. Since PPS requires universal masking, and contact tracing is no longer performed for masked situations, most students will no longer qualify for Test to Stay. There are specific, rare situations that may meet the criteria for “Test to Stay” which will be determined by the MESD and/or Multnomah County Public Health on a case by case basis. 

    OHSU Screening Testing Program:
    PPS will continue to offer testing options such as the weekly OHSU Screening Test program and school-specific rapid tests for students or staff who become symptomatic while at school. Contact your school for additional information.

    Important Note from OHSU:
    With the omicron variant surging, we are seeing more students testing positive for COVID. Those students who test positive should not participate in the OHSU testing program for 90 days after receiving their results, as they will continue to test positive during this time period. These repeat positive tests consume testing supplies and staff time, and distract us from helping students who are healthy or are just being diagnosed with COVID for the first time. Students with a positive result do not need to opt-out of the program, but they do need to pause their participation until the 90-day period has ended.

    We hope this information is helpful as our schools continue to align with the most current public health guidance. As a reminder:

    • We encourage you and your students to continue to wear a proper, well-fitting face mask.
    • Get everyone in your household who is eligible (ages 5 and up) vaccinated, and boosted.
    • Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and keep your loved ones at home if they show any symptoms. 

    Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we continue to respond to the ever changing COVID-19 landscape.

    Brenda Martinek
    Chief of Student Support Services