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The state issued a notice asking schools to pause extracurriculars or follow 'layered mitigation safety protocols.'

COURTESY PHOTO - The Forest Grove Vikettes dance team poses for a photo with their first place plaques at Clackamas High School in November.Athletics, theater and other extracurricular activities will continue in the Forest Grove School District — masked and distanced — as they have since the start of the school year.

On Monday, Jan. 3, the Oregon Department of Education issued a notice asking schools to either pause extracurriculars or ensure they follow "layered mitigation safety protocols," which include vaccinations, masks, distancing, cohorting, quarantining, screening, testing and air circulation.

Spokesperson David Warner said the district has been following those safeguards and will continue with the same policies from the start of the school year, which include a mask requirement indoors.

Currently, Forest Grove allows spectators at sporting events during the winter sports season. Warner suggested it's possible that policy could change.

"Right now, we're doing things as we have been. We have all these layered protocols in place," Warner said in a phone interview with the Pamplin Media Group. "This could change. With activities being inside, that does increase risk. If we get more specific orders from the (Oregon Health Authority), that could lead to potentially limiting spectators."

Portland Public Schools, the largest district in the state, also said Tuesday it was not pausing extracurricular activities.

Forest Grove School District Superintendent David Parker said in a statement the district will wait for OHA and the Department of Education to interpret new Centers for Disease Control guidance for K-12 schools, which is expected to be released this month.

The state forecasts a surge of COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant across Oregon through February. On Tuesday, the Beaver State reported another 4,540 new cases — smashing the previous daily record — and 44 more deaths.

"As we approach the two-year mark of this pandemic, we know that students, staff and families are tired, scared and frustrated," Parker said in the statement. "As we work together and remain vigilant in implementing preventative measures, we can continue to keep our schools open."

The state and district required all K-12 staff to receive a vaccination in the fall. So far, there is no similar mandate for booster shots.

Forest Grove school board chair Kate Grandusky did not respond to a request for comment.

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