COVID-19 and Public Schools: FAQs

Does Oregon have statewide public health metrics for school reopenings?

On December 23, 2020, Governor Kate Brown announced that the public health metrics that had previously dictated when a school district might be allowed to physically reopen public schools would no longer be enforced as of January 1, 2021. This means that school reopenings are no longer tied to community COVID-19 levels.

When will educators receive COVID-19 vaccines?

Due to the national uncertainty around vaccine distribution, it is impossible to predict when Oregon educators might receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, Governor Brown has requested that the state’s commission on COVID-19 vaccines prioritize teachers and education-related workers in Oregon’s second round of vaccines.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

All available public health data supports that all currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe for the public. The Oregon Education Association strongly encourages educators to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when once becomes available for education workers.

Will I be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to keep my job?

There is currently no requirement for educators to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available in order to maintain their employment.

What schools are required to follow ODE’s “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” guidance?
The “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” guidance applies to any K-12 public school in Oregon. This includes schools within a school district, education service district, or public charter. It also includes Juvenile Detention Education Programs (JDEP), Youth Correction Education Programs (YCEP), Long Term Care and Treatment Programs (LTCT) and the Oregon School for the Deaf.

The guidance also applies to private schools, including parochial schools, providing K-12 instruction.

Will the guidance be updated?
Yes, ODE has indicated that they will continue to update the guidance throughout the school year as needed. The current version of the guidance (4.1.0) was released on December 4, 2020.

When will ODE release its Comprehensive Distance Learning guidance?
ODE released its supplemental “Comprehensive Distance Learning” guidance on June 30. The most recent version of the CDL guidance can be viewed HERE.

For staff who are high risk, what options do they have for choosing the type of work they do?
If the ADA and/or state anti-discrimination statute is triggered because a person has a qualifying ‘disability’ or is viewed by the employer as having a qualifying disability, and the employee raises the accommodation issue with the employer, the employer must engage with the employee in a discussion about “reasonable accommodation(s).” In this interactive process, the parties can get somewhat creative when it comes to altering work type, schedule, etc.

How does a student get cleared to come back to the classroom if they don’t have a fever?
ODE guidance says that students and staff must remain home until 72 hours after their fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medicine and other symptoms are improving.

If a staff member or a student tests positive for COVID-19, they must remain home for at least 10 days after the onset of the illness and 72 hours after their fever is gone, without the use of fever reducing medicine. Alternatively, an individual who tested positive may return to school after receiving two subsequent negative COVID-19 tests taken at least 24 hours apart.

How has the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission responded to COVID?

TSPC has extended and expanded the COVID 19 emergency provisions from March 2020 to continue throughout this current school year. These provisions provide relief to both educator candidates and existing educators and can be downloaded and reviewed in detail HERE. If you have any questions, please contact Teresa Ferrer at teresa.ferrer@oregoned.org. 1-1 Licensure Consults with Teresa can also be scheduled every Wednesday by registering HERE.