Oregon holding ‘North Star goal’ of in-person instruction for school year

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Oregon’s top epidemiologist says the state should receive supplies of COVID-19 vaccine boosters designed to attack the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, as well as the original strain, this fall.

The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education held a briefing Wednesday ahead of the 2022-23 school year. It was a chance for teachers, parents and students to learn where Oregon stands in terms of the pandemic after two disrupted school years.

ODE Director Colt Gill said “we are holding strong to our North Star goal of providing equitable access to in-person instruction all day, every school day, for every student.”

Dean Sidelinger, health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA, said COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen since July. 

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Sdelinger is encouraging families to schedule COVID-19 and routine childhood vaccinations.

“The immunization schedule is designed to provide immunity early in life, before children are likely to be exposed to diseases,” said Sidelinger.

He also urged those who are eligible for a booster to get one.

ODE says it has provided a list of resources for schools including COVID-19 planning documents, the Care and Connection tools and Oregon Classroom WISE, a suite of free print and video resources, guided tutorials, role plays, and interviews with youth and school personnel to support the mental and emotional well-being of students and school staff.

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