Portland schools reinstate virus measures amid omicron

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Portland public school officials are tightening mask and vaccination requirements for after-school athletic competitions, training and performance amid a wave of COVID-19 cases in the state driven by the omicron variant.

With little appetite for a return to full closure, some other districts in the state were taking similar steps while others were not announcing any changes to their policies on extracurricular activities – yet.

Oregon set a daily record for the number of new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday for the third time in a week and health officials said more than one in five tests given came back positive for the virus – more than double the rate recorded last week.

New cases are up 140% from last week and hospitalizations are up 57% from the same time last week as the highly contagious variant of omicron takes hold. There have been 43 reported COVID-19 deaths, up from 89 reported the previous week.

The Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority jointly recommended Monday that districts implement new safeguards to slow the spread of COVID or temporarily halt extracurricular activities.

In response, Oregon’s largest school district said Tuesday night it would require athletes to wear masks at all times during athletic competitions and training, as well as music and dance performances, at the except students who play wind instruments.

The district is also limiting access to locker rooms, ending overnight trips for extracurricular activities, and will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours for anyone attending an extracurricular event who is over 5 years of age.

The stricter rules mirror those that were in place in the spring of 2021 and will be so at least until February 4.

Similar measures were announced in some other districts, while others made little change in their policies but asked people to voluntarily limit participation in sporting events and other activities.

In the suburban Lake Oswego district, for example, authorities announced on Tuesday that they would limit the number of spectators at athletic competitions in their gymnasiums and swimming pools to four per athlete for matches in gymnasiums and two for swimmers in the gymnasiums. home team in the last year. The sports competitions will be broadcast live for those who cannot attend under the new ticket system, the district said.

Lake Oswego also expanded free weekly COVID testing for elementary school students – a program that was slated to end in January – and announced plans to expand it to middle and high school students by February.

The district will review its policy every two weeks, according to a statement.

Other districts, including Salem-Keizer and Hillsboro, posted warnings on their website indicating that participation in extracurricular activities could pose a risk of COVID-19 infection and quarantine, but have not implemented no new rule.

Salem-Keizer said she is currently reviewing her policies in light of omicron. The Hillsboro School District has asked people to voluntarily limit the number of spectators at sporting events and said the district will conduct contact tracing to determine if cancellations are necessary for a sport or activity.

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