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As COVID-19 cases settle after an uptick in January, the school district is loosening safety protocols. 

Lake Oswego elementary school students will no longer need to wear a face covering during outdoor activities.

This was one of several COVID-19 guidelines that were updated in the Lake Oswego School District Monday, Feb. 7. The decision eliminated restrictions that were put in place in early January to keep students in classrooms as Oregon experienced a wave of omicron cases. Superintendent Jennifer Schiele said in a previous letter that the district would continue to evaluate protocols and safety measures every two weeks.

"Our district's decisions — including the ones being made today — have been centered on providing successful full time, in-person instruction and protecting the health and wellbeing of our community," Schiele said in a letter to the community.

As promised, on Feb. 4 the district announced that because positive cases continue to trend down and vaccination rates increase in the district, some of the safety measures can be loosened. According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, the school district identified 190 positive cases from Jan. 16 to 22 but dropped to 138 cases between Jan. 23 and 29.

"I understand that people in our learning community are at different stages of comfort regarding the pandemic and mitigation measures. I am confident in our decisions to reduce some of the restrictions because our community has taken such great care in doing your part to help protect the health and safety of our learning community," Schiele said.

New guidelines

Students in K-5 do not need to wear masks while outdoors for a break or physical education classes.

Statewide Oregon Health Authority guidelines announced last November that local school districts could lift the outdoor mask mandate for their students. At the time, the school district opted to allow secondary school students to remove their masks while outdoors in December. But the primary school students' mandate remained in place — until now.

The new safety protocol will allow primary school students to take a "mask break during outdoor activities such as recess and outdoor PE," according to the school district. The change also means adults visiting schools are not required to wear masks outdoors.

"Students may opt to keep on their masks while outdoors, and that choice will be supported," Schiele said.

The school district also approved visitation rights for people like class volunteers during school hours.

"As originally planned, we will gradually welcome additional classroom volunteers and classroom needs are at the discretion of teachers. Please continue to work with your schools to complete volunteer requirements in preparation of returning to our classrooms," Schiele said in the letter to the community.

The district also announced that the number of spectators allowed at indoor extracurricular events will be slightly increased.

On Jan. 5, the district made changes to athletic competitions in an attempt to keep schools open as omicron cases began to rise. Athletes competing in games hosted in the school's gymnasium were allotted four tickets for spectators, while spectators for cheer and dance competitions were prohibited.

Schools will independently announce updated capacity limits.

"Please continue to practice consideration and kindness with each other as we make strides to navigate our way out of the pandemic together," Schiele said.

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