Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



State health agencies say that safety protocols are very critical at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Extracirricular activities are continuing in Estacada, with safety precautions in place.

After Oregon's education and health agencies asked schools to pause extracurricular activities or keep the same rules in place that are followed during the school day, Estacada School District leaders said activities would continue with masks.

In a school health advisory Monday, Jan. 3, the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority warned about the impact the omicron variant of COVID-19 may have on schools and called layered mitigation strategies like vaccinations, boosters, frequent handwashing, masks and distancing at schools "more critical now than at any other time during this pandemic."

The state agencies are asking schools to either pause extracurricular activities or keep the same rules in place that are followed during the school day, like wearing masks.

"If schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors and individuals are unmasked, they 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," the health advisory message warns. "This risk should be clearly communicated to families participating in these extracurricular activities."

"At this time, similar to other districts, we are going to continue with athletics. We recognize how important extracurriculars are to students, and we want to maintain them," Kelly said, noting that the district would comply with any mandates from state and county health agencies.

In Estacada, those participating in athletics or other extracurricular activities are required to wear a mask, unless they are actively exercising. 

Kelly said the district had not seen a significant amount of on-campus COVID-19 spread and that the majority of positive cases have been from off-campus exposures. Coming from winter vacation, the district has seen an increase of positive COVID-19 cases, but Kelly noted this typically occurs after school breaks.

"If (on campus spread) changes with omicron, we'll talk 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 school and extracurricular activities. They're such a critical component of the educational experience and we want to keep going with them, but this is a partnership," Kelly said, encouraging families to keep sick students home, tell the district about any COVID-19 exposures and complete the daily screening questionnaire honestly.

Reporter Courtney Vaughn contributed to this story.

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