As omicron cases surged in Lake Oswego, the school district implemented additional safety measures, effective immediately, in order to keep schools open.
In a Jan. 12 letter to families, the Lake Oswego School District announced that there were 280 positive COVID cases documented during the first week of students returning to classes after holiday break. This number could be higher as the cases are self-reported by students and staff. In order to keep classes in person, the district announced several mitigation cases it would roll out — all of which will be reevaluated every two weeks.
Mask requirements for K-5, and volunteers
The outdoor mask mandate for primary school students will remain in place, for now.
During the Nov. 30 Lake Oswego School Board meeting, Superintendent Jennifer Schiele announced that the outdoor mask mandate for secondary students would be lifted the following day. Primary school students would soon follow, with a tentative date of Jan. 3.
Schiele said the plan was to give students further opportunity to be fully vaccinated before lifting the requirement. However, she warned families that plans could change, especially as omicron cases continued to rise.
The plan did change and the district pushed the date to Friday, Jan. 14. In the letter to families sent out Wednesday, LOSD alerted families that elementary school students will continue to wear masks for the time being.
In the Jan. 12 letter, the school district also announced that it will prohibit volunteers and guest speakers from entering campuses.
In the letter, the district also asked families to educate themselves on the LOSD COVID-19 Dashboard that is available online. The dashboard captures known school exposures and documents active quarantine and isolation numbers.
The dashboard is updated daily, but sometimes lags by a few days due to the high volume of cases that need to be evaluated by the district's nurses. Larson told Pamplin Media Group that the dashboard numbers are self-reported, and she encouraged community members to alert the school of a positive case as soon as possible.
Virtual learning a possibility, but not in forecast
In the letter to families, the district said it is experiencing a tricky cocktail of staff absences because of COVID-19, on top of an already existing staff shortage.
Schiele said educators and administrators are working together to keep schools open "safely." This also included filling open positions as the district experiences a staff shortage.
If the district needs to cancel in-person learning, it will shut down a campus in a manner similar to a weather event. The missed class days will be added to the end of the school year calendar in June.
"We are fortunate in LOSD to have the resources to keep our schools open but as we have learned, nothing is certain at this time. We believe we will get through this surge by remaining diligent in protecting the health and wellbeing of our community and limiting spread so we can keep schools open," Schiele said in the letter.
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