PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon schools are just weeks away from welcoming back students for in-person learning but as the delta variant spreads across the state, Oregon coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Per Governor Kate Brown's mandate, all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face masks in indoor school settings regardless of vaccination status.
On Wednesday, the state's largest school district, Portland Public Schools, announced it will require all employees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 by Aug. 31.
But as parents and kids prepare for back to school, we've received a lot of questions about coronavirus policies. Specifically, what happens if a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19?
Will teachers and students have to quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19?
Yes, staff and students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days, regardless of vaccination status.
WHAT WE FOUND
All five Oregon school districts we spoke to said staff and students who test positive for coronavirus will be required to quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.
Those who test positive but show no symptoms will still be required to quarantine.
That guidance aligns with recommendations from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The agencies put out a toolkit outlining a number of COVID-19 scenarios in schools and advice for how to deal with them.
Exact policies may vary from district to district depending on the specific guidance from the local public health authority where the school is based.
Will students and staff members have to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19?
It depends on a number of factors including: vaccination status, length of exposure, age of the "close contact" and whether face masks were worn during the interaction with the infected party.
WHAT WE FOUND
In this scenario, vaccination status does matter.
According to the CDC and recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority, those who are fully vaccinated and deemed to be in "close contact" with someone who tests positive, will not have to quarantine if they don't show symptoms.
People who have had COVID in the last 90 days and completed their isolation period should not have to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID, according to the state's guidelines.
Those who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or showing symptoms will need to quarantine if they were in "close contact" with someone who has COVID-19.
According to the CDC, "close contact" includes anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for longer than 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
However, in a K-12 classroom setting, students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student are not considered close contacts if both parties wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exemption does not apply to staff members or other adults — they would be considered close contacts even if masked.
OHA recommends a 14-day quarantine for those who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, although the recommended quarantine length may vary depending on guidance from the local public health authority.