Assemblies and some after-school activities at Beaverton School District will be on a temporary pause, effective Monday, Jan. 10, as the pervasiveness of the omicron variant brings COVID-19 cases in Washington County to an all-time high.
In a health advisory on Monday, Jan. 3, the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority warned that in-person learning will likely be put on hold if school districts don't temporarily halt school sports and other close-contact activities — or at least take steps to reduce the risk of viral transmission through those activities — until at least Jan. 31.
If districts choose not to have an all-out pause, the state advises them to require masks to be worn during all activities.
While the Beaverton School District won't be pausing all extracurriculars, some will be put on halt until further notice.
"We understand the disappointment that some of our students, families and staff will feel with the reinstatement of many of these policies," said school district spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah. "However, if we do not take additional measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 — especially among our staff members — we will not have enough healthy bus drivers, teachers and support staff to operate school in person.
What's included in this pause?
The pause will include after-school social events, like school dances. After-school clubs, practices and other extracurriculars, however, will still be allowed. Students and staff must wear masks and continue to maintain physical distance for those programs to continue.
Overnight travel for extracurriculars will be on pause until further notice.
What are the new masking requirements?
The district's indoor mask mandate will remain in place. Its outdoor mask mandate is reinstated.
There are caveats to this, however. While masks are required during theater, band and choir rehearsals, masking is optional during the actual performances. Bailey-Shah said students will remain socially distanced during performances.
Band members who use their mouths to play instruments must wear slit masks — specially designed for musicians — during classes and practices. The district will provide these masks to students.
Students who play instruments that don't require their mouth must wear regular masks.
Athletes and coaches will need to consistently wear masks when they're not "actively engaged" in the sport. Masks must be worn for example, while they are sitting on a bench or in locker rooms.
If a Beaverton School District team plays an away game in a district that requires athletes to be masked at all times, players must follow those rules.
While students are not required to wear masks while "actively engaged" in physical activity during outdoor physical education classes, students must wear masks during indoor physical education classes.
Are spectators allowed in at sports and school performances?
Spectators with "family tickets" will be the only ones able to attend performances and athletic events.
Student performers, athletes, cheerleaders and dance squad members will each be issued four "family tickets," depending on seating capacity.
Family groups are asked to exercise social distancing, to the extent possible, and be masked.
Ticket distribution will vary by school.
While cheerleaders and dance squad members are allowed at games, pep band members will not.
Schools will make every effort to provide livestreams of games and performances, according to school district officials.
Are schools allowing visitors?
The district is putting a temporary hold on all visitors, including career day participants, military recruiters, mock interview helpers, visiting authors, artists or presenters from local organizations, and career-technical education industry guests.
The district is also pausing the use of volunteers in schools, except for volunteers providing meal support and those providing support at district-based Clothes for Kids.
The district's test-to-stay program will be put on a temporary hold due to a severe staff shortage.
The program was initially intended to allow students to attend school in person as well as participate in extracurricular activities (with certain restrictions), provided they test negative for COVID-19.
School district officials hope to restart the program on Monday, Jan. 24, provided they have adequate staffing levels by then.
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