Note: Recipient-submitted material; content authored by recipient, not ELC
Information current as of October 6, 2021

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To learn more about Oregon’s school testing plans, visit their websiteexternal icon. Camps serving K–12 aged students that are interested in testing can email schooltesting.covid@dhsoha.state.or.us.

Management structure for school screening

Oregon’s health department developed and is leading the state’s K-12 diagnostic and screening testing projects. For the K-12 screening testing, the health department oversees five regional laboratory partners leading the programming locally.

Support provided to school districts

Given current levels of high transmission, Oregon has decided not to tailor its screening testing to community transmission levels.

Oregon’s K-12 screening testing programming is optional at the district, school, and family levels. Those districts and schools which opt-in may offer the programming to all unvaccinated students and collect consent forms from families to enroll their children into the program. Because COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in reducing the risk of infection, Oregon recommends screening only in unvaccinated individuals. Schools may choose to verify vaccination status, but this is not required, and all interested K-12 students are welcome to enroll, regardless of vaccination status.

Schools work with their assigned regional laboratory to finalize cohort rosters and testing details (saliva vs. nasal self-collection, school vs. home testing, classroom, and extracurricular cohorts). All screening is weekly. Oregon offers schools technical assistance in designing their programs and works closely with regional laboratory partners to address supply chain and logistical issues.

All Oregon schools are strongly encouraged to participate in both screening and diagnostic testing programming as part of a holistic approach to support safer full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. Oregon has worked hard to collaborate with their K-12 partners regarding effective testing strategies in K-12 settings, and Oregon’s focus remains on universal access to diagnostic testing for those with symptoms or exposure. Testing cannot reverse widespread noncompliance with basic public health interventions, including masking, physical distancing and avoiding social gatherings. Vaccination coupled with these basic public health interventions are the most powerful tools available to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.