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OHA and ODE Provide Updates on COVID-19 and Planning for Coming School Year

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Department of Education (ODE) provided updates Wednesday on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to ensure Oregon schools can maintain in-person instruction during the 2022-2023 school year.

Dean Sidelinger, M.D. MSEd, health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA, noted hospitalizations of COVID-19-positive patients continued to decline since July. He also encouraged Oregon families to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations, along with routine childhood immunizations, to protect their children as they prepared to head back to classrooms.

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

Sidelinger also provided a fall vaccine update. Pending federal and state approvals, he said, Oregon should expect to receive supplies of bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters this fall from both Pfizer and Moderna. The bivalent vaccines have been designed to target BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants and the original strain.

Sidelinger also encouraged all eligible residents to get boosted: “OHA’s message to anyone who is eligible for a booster is simple — if you are eligible, get your booster now and do not wait until the fall.”

Colt Gill, director of ODE, outlined what families and students can expect with COVID-19 planning and in-person instruction for the academic year.

“As we head into the coming year, 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,” said Gill.

Gill also highlighted resources for K-12 schools available from ODE. These include 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.

Here are the talking points from today’s media availability. You can also watch it here.

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