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Health agency, education department issue K-12 advisory

The Oregon Health Authority and the state’s Department of Education issued an advisory for the month of October calling on all schools to “add layers of safety protocols” as instruction moves largely indoors due to the change in season.

It’s important for districts to take those steps since indoor learning heightens the chances of COVID-19 infection, the agency said, and the rates of transmission of the virus is still “high” in every county in the state.

The advisory comes as no surprise to a few valley school district officials, who say they’ve reached advisories like this one from OHA in the past and have been maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols for several months.

When it comes to more “layers of protection,” the advisory suggests schools increase airflow in buildings and retrain staff on protocols, among other measures.

Schools should also continue working to help K-12 employees complete their vaccination series; limit gatherings and non-essential activities, but holding extracurricular ones outdoors if they wish; and holding “family events” online rather than in-person.

“The more focused we are now on health and safety protocols and communication, the better we can navigate this next season together,” OHA stated in the advisory.

The agency adds advisories like the October one will be issued “from time to time” to identify additional steps K-12 communities can take to stay safe against COVID-19.

“These advisories may be regional or statewide,” it stated. “The School Health Advisories may name actions that individuals, families, schools, and/or communities can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help schools stay open to in-person instruction.”