LETTERS FROM SUPERINTENDENT CHAMPION
March 8, 2022
Greetings, Medford School District Families!
Monday, March 14, the Medford School District will move to a mask optional policy, meaning families can choose whether or not their student wears a mask. Contact tracing and quarantine rules are also paused. So, what’s important for you to know?
Your student may mask or not mask.
If your student has symptoms, please keep them home.
If your student has COVID, please let us know, and keep them home for five days.
We are supportive of those who continue to mask.
We will have no tolerance for bullying.
In MSD, ALL are Learning and Learning is for ALL - this is true if you learn with a mask on or no mask.
Please be kind to one another.
February 7, 2022
Greetings, Medford School District Families!
You may have already heard, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is projecting hospitalizations to decrease to pre-Omicron levels by the end of March and thus planning to lift the statewide indoor mask requirement at that time. What does that mean for schools?
The Medford School District’s priority is to provide the best education possible for students while keeping students, staff, and the community safe. We continue to follow the science and projections from health experts, as well as all requirements from ODE.
- OHA’s projected COVID-19 rates and hospitalizations for the end of March look similar to rates from last summer, when cases were relatively low in Jackson County and we were able to make masks optional in our Medford School District Summer Experience. During that time, we saw only a few cases throughout the summer program, with cases contracted in the community.
- We also know that teaching and learning is more effective when universal masking is not in place.
- For these reasons, we are leaning towards shifting our guidance to masks being optional as soon as the requirements are lifted for school, likely March 31. Masks are still mandatory indoors as of now, unless students have an approved accommodation.
We still need to have conversations with our local public health authority and other entities. We do know the preference of our staff and families through a survey conducted in July 2021: when cases are low, the majority of both groups prefer masks optional. We will communicate more details once we have made our final determination.
Of course, if we go this route, our multi-layered mitigation measures including quarantine and isolation will still be in place. We will still have methods in which we can test our symptomatic or exposed students and staff on campus. Students and staff can, of course, continue to mask if they wish. Click here for where to get vaccinated in Jackson County.
As we’ve done throughout this pandemic, we will continue to work with our health partners and reassess if needed.
If you have questions about MSD guidance, please email email@example.com. If you have COVID-19 and need support, visit OHA’s COVID support page (includes a hotline number).
We truly hope this is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we will keep you posted!
January 14, 2022
We know families are nervous at the thought of returning to distance learning and we want you to know our goal is to keep our doors safely open. As predicated, we are seeing an increase in staff and student cases of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant. We’re closely tracking those cases with our partners at Jackson County Public Health and cases are expected to peak at the end of the month. Hopefully cases will decrease drastically in February!
While some districts across the country, including here in Oregon, have made temporary shifts to distance learning, this is not a plan Medford is exploring. There may be times when a single class needs to shut down due to exposures or staffing shortages, but we are making every effort to continue in-person learning because we know students need to be in school.
We have made some temporary changes (through Feb. 4) to support our efforts to stay open, including:
No unnecessary in-person staff meetings or community events
Dispatching district staff to help at schools
Testing qualifying employees & students to keep them at school when they’ve been exposed (as allowed by state guidance)
The Oregon Department of Education announced today new contact tracing rules. Oregon will no longer consider masked contact in K-12 settings (including on school buses) to be an exposure regardless of distancing. We will be focusing our contact tracing on times when students are unmasked for long periods of time, such as in certain extracurricular activities or in classrooms where individual accommodations to the masking policy are required to support students with disabilities.
The number one way you can help is to keep your student home if they are sick! If your student is sick, please call the school and let them know.
In addition, support for members of school communities who test positive for COVID-19 can be accessed through the COVID-19 Case Support Hotline, 866-917-8881, or Positive COVID Test website. OHA is also identifying resources to add a school-specific support team to the hotline.
MSD also opened a hotline for COVID questions, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org; 541-842-3806.
We appreciate you very much as we navigate this most recent challenge in the COVID era.
January 10, 2022
Greetings, Medford School District Staff and Families!
We received a few updates from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and wanted to share them with you.
Isolation & Quarantine:
- ODE has updated its guidance to reflect the CDC’s for isolation and quarantine. Staff and students currently isolating (ill with COVID-19) who have completed five days of isolation and are fever-free for 24 hours with improved or no symptoms, can return to school or work.
- Staff and students currently quarantining who have completed five days of quarantine and are symptom-free can return to school or work. It is recommended you get a test after five days prior to returning. You must wear your mask upon return.
New Definition of “Fully Vaccinated”:
- Fully vaccinated adult means:
- Pfizer - primary series and a booster after 5 months,
- Moderna - primary series and a booster after 5 months,
- and Johnson and Johnson - primary series and a booster after 2 months.
- Students 5-17 years old are considered vaccinated without the booster, if they have had the primary shot series. Students 18 years and older are considered vaccinated if they have the primary vaccination series and a booster.
- Students 12 years and older are now eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster.
Test to Stay
- Students and Staff who are not fully vaccinated may qualify for Test to Stay. Contact your school principal or supervisor for details.
We will be offering a few opportunities for staff and families to get their questions answered in the next week or two. Stay tuned for details for a virtual Q&A!
January 4, 2021
Greetings, Medford School District Families!
Welcome back and Happy New Year!
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released an advisory yesterday regarding the expected impact of the Omicron variant. The bottom line: we must do everything we can to keep our students in the classroom, while protecting the health and safety of our students, staff, and community. In order to do so, we’re making a few changes, just through the month of January when we will reassess. These changes are primarily staff related, as a critical factor in keeping students in class, of course, is keeping educators well. We will:
- Hold all staff meetings virtually.
- Hold all family/community engagement activities virtually or postpone them.
- Limit volunteers to those who are critical to our work.
- Continue our multi-layered mitigation measures, as outlined in our Safety Standards.
- Require students coming to and from recess to mask inside (carry masks with them outside). Masks are still not required outdoors.
We know that athletics and extracurricular activities are important to students and schools. At this point, we plan to continue athletics and extracurricular activities, managing the risk and adjusting as necessary. If your student participates in an athletics or extracurricular activities indoors where masks are not required (high intensity athletics, musical or theatrical performances), health officials do warn there is a high risk of transmission currently due to the Omicron variant.
We know the CDC has made some changes to its isolation and quarantine guidance. ODE has not made that change. We are still operating under the current guidance, which is:
- I tested positive for COVID: ten days of isolation.
- I have been exposed to COVID and am unvaccinated: seven to fourteen days of quarantine.
- Vaccinated students and staff who are exposed do not need to quarantine.
- Students and staff can also “Test to Stay” if they are unvaccinated and exposed at school. Parent/Guardian permission must be on file.
- For more details regarding isolation and quarantine please reference the first seven pages of ODE’s COVID Scenarios Document.
We know these details can be very confusing especially since there are frequent changes in guidance. If you have questions, you can reach out to our COVID Safety Team or to your school’s principal.
Thank you for your patience and grace as we work to support your students.
August 27, 2021
Greetings, Medford School District Families!
THANK YOU for your partnership, patience, and grace as we worked to serve your students this first week of the 2021-22 school year. We had a great first week of school, and that wouldn’t be possible without your support!
Please take a moment to read some of the updates and reminders to our safety guidance.
NEW OUTDOOR MASK RULE
Governor Brown announced a statewide outdoor mask requirement effective today, August 27, masks will be required in most public outdoor settings, including large outdoor events, where physical distancing is not possible, and regardless of vaccination status.
The outdoor mask rule does not apply during the day for K-12 schools (recess, outdoor PE, lunch break outside, etc.).
The outdoor mask rule does apply to attendees at outdoor events (games, performances, etc.).
Athletes in competition or performers are exempt from the mask rule.
ODE released its guidance on vaccines for staff yesterday. It applies to MSD teachers, staff, partners, and volunteers who work in our school buildings directly or indirectly with students effective Oct. 18. It does not apply to parents and guardians who are short-term visitors.
Folks can request a medical or religious exception.
Districts that grant an exception must take reasonable steps to ensure that unvaccinated staff and volunteers are protected from contracting and spreading COVID-19.
We will be releasing more information and exception forms soon.
If a student is exposed to COVID either at school, on a bus, or at home, the student is required to quarantine (there are exceptions outlined in our safety standards). If a student is vaccinated, they are exempt from quarantine, as long as they provide proof of vaccination status to the school.
We are down 50% of our normal number of bus drivers. This is impacting routes, so if your student rides the bus, please check bus routes frequently. Also, if you can walk or drive your student, please do so. It’s important to note, all students on a bus must quarantine in the event of an exposure on the bus.
Our full COVID prevention guidance can be found here: MSD Safety Standards.
Grateful for your continued trust to serve your children.
August 5, 2021
Greetings, Medford School District Staff and Families.
As you know, the State of Oregon passed a rule requiring all students, staff, and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors in our K-12 schools. We’ve received a lot of feedback about the rule, in addition to some great questions. Here are our best answers to a few frequently asked questions:
What happens if the district refuses to implement the rule or I refuse to allow my student to wear a mask?
If the district or school violates the rule, we could be fined $500 per day, per violation. Not following the mandate would result in the district losing its liability coverage, and educators who intentionally disregard the rule could lose their licenses. It goes without saying, all of these violations would impact our ability to provide quality in-person instruction to students, which we don’t want!
If a family refuses to allow their child to wear a mask, the family will be asked to enroll their student in our virtual learning option, Medford Online Academy.
What if my student cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons?
We absolutely will work with you! A student may have an exception to the rule written in their Special Education Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or families can provide a doctor’s note to their school for consideration. Oftentimes, when documentation is provided, face shields can be approved medical exceptions to a mask.
How long will the mask mandate last?
The Oregon Health Authority will reassess the rule at least every month with the intent to return districts to local decision-making when case rates decrease.
Are there any benefits to the mask mandate?
More time in school for our students! The new rules state that if students are wearing masks properly and seated three feet apart, they will not need to quarantine in the event of a case. We know from our experience last year that quarantining made continual learning time for students and teachers challenging. Additionally, face coverings help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses, keeping our school communities well and in school.
What about sports or after-school activities?
The Oregon Department of Education is allowing masks to be optional during optional activities, such as athletics and after-school activities that are not required as part of a student’s education. The Medford School District will allow masks optional at after-school athletics and activities that are not required as part of a student’s education.
On Tuesday, August 10, the Medford School Board will be having a Board meeting to discuss the rules and advocating for local decision-making at the state level. The meeting will be held at 5:30 PM at North Medford High School and available on live stream at this link: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/msbm/. Due to the increased number of COVID cases in Jackson County, the meeting space will not be open to the public. Written public comment will be accepted until noon August 10 at this link. A summary of comments will be shared at the meeting, and all public comments regarding face coverings will be provided to Board members and shared with the Governor’s office.
If you have any questions about the meeting please visit our website, email email@example.com, or contact 541-842-3621.