School Settings

September 20, 2021

The schools and Columbia County Public Health are doing everything that we can to address the exposures within the schools in a manner that balances the health of students and staff and minimizes the impacts of COVID-19 illness and quarantine on the students' learning and development in school.

The impact on the schools, and the students who learn and participate in them, are an effect of the high rates of those ill and positive for COVID-19 in the community.  The best thing we can do as a community to support students' ability to participate in school at this time is to reduce the transmission of the virus through the means that work – to protect ourselves and those in our community by properly wearing effective face coverings, keeping groups small and maintaining distance from people not in our household, and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please see the following release from Columbia County on August 6, 2021:

Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education Launch School Dashboard

OHA and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) are introducing a new interactive tool highlighting Oregon schools’ operating status. This dashboard displays a school’s current instructional model and ODE’s current school in-person recommendations based on COVID-19 case counts, rates and test positivity by county. The dashboard also highlights how many and which schools are operating under each instructional model. This new dashboard will enable Oregonians to quickly see what instructional model their school is currently following and the county’s in-person operation recommendations. This dashboard is a collaboration between OHA and ODE. The school instructional model data displayed is from the previous week. Data is collected on Fridays and will be updated the following Tuesday by 5 p.m.

School Operating Status Dashboard→

School Health and Safety Metrics

General county transmission levels can be viewed here→

Clatskanie School District

Scappoose School District

Rainier School District

Vernonia School District

Saint Helens School DistrictNorthwest Regional Education Service District

Resources for students and parents

The Northwest Regional Education Service District→ is a good resource for school families and educators. Their website includes information on meal sites as well as resources for educators and service providers.
Experts from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network share their recommendations→ for educators supporting students during the COVID-19 crisis.

Additional Resources:

Trauma Informed Oregon→

Child Trauma Academy→

Teaching Tolerance→

To help manage the new “normal” of students no longer attending school in person for the remainder of this school year, several resources are available to families and students of all grade levels: 

Local Resources:

Columbia County School Meals Information

Community Resource and Service Update

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do only unvaccinated students or staff need to quarantine if they have been in close contact to a person with COVID-19?

Students and staff who are fully immunized are less likely to become infected than those who have not received the vaccine; they are also far less likely to have severe illness leading to hospitalization or death.

While an individual infected may be able to pass on the infection, since fewer will become infected, there is less risk to students and staff from a group who has been exposed who are vaccinated, vs those who are not vaccinated.

Why can't someone who is exposed do a 7-day or 10-day quarantine as the CDC says?

The CDC allows the local public health authority to opt in to two options for shortened quarantine; as short as 7 days with a negative test result collected after day 5, or 10 days. Decisions to shorten the recommended quarantine are made with local conditions in mind. Currently, the local conditions considered are our county's low rate of vaccination and very high community transmission. Columbia County is not opting in to the shortened quarantine at this time. [link to CDC quarantine page]

Does the Delta variant change any of these guidelines?

The guidelines stand as they are at this time, whether Delta or another variant is the primary variant circulating. Variants may have new features that make them more or less severe, and more or less transmissible. Changes to recommendations at this time center around preventive recommendations that all people are encouraged to take, such as physical distancing, keeping group sizes small, and widespread wearing of masks where community transmission is high, and of course getting protected by the vaccine. The current variants have not caused any change to recommendations for isolation or quarantine.

Testing and vaccine resources are available on Columbia County's website or by calling 503-397-7247.

Here's what you can do to keep your students safe and prevent the spread of illness at school this year.

Illness from COVID-19 can be mild and seem like the common cold. For some people, illness can become more severe. Symptoms to watch for include cough, sore throat, fever or difficulty breathing. Fever is not always present. Some people report loss of smell or taste as an early symptom. 

Staying home at the first sign of illness is the most important step we can take to keep our community safe and healthy. The best thing we can all do as a community is reduce the transmission of the virus through the means that work – to protect ourselves and those in our community by properly wearing effective face coverings, keeping groups small and maintaining distance from people not in our household, and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please talk to your kids about the importance of staying six feet away from others outside of your house. We continue to hear reports of youth playing, rough-housing, and generally NOT following these lifesaving instructions.

Review hygiene habits with your household

  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wear a face covering→ if you are in a place where you cannot keep six feet away from people outside of your household.

If someone gets sick in your house

Please review our home guidance→ for what to do if someone in your household becomes sick. It is important to keep the ill person separated from the rest of the household as much as possible, have one caregiver if needed, and alert your health care provider if symptoms are getting worse.

Public Health Quick Links
General Information
Phone Numbers
General Public Health Inquiries and 24-hour Emergency Contact: 503-397-7247
Fax: 888-204-8568
Emergencies: Dial 911
230 Strand St.
Columbia County Courthouse Annex
St. Helens,

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. to 4:30


Columbia County Public Health is committed to improving the quality of life and protecting the health and well-being of all residents by addressing social, economic, and environmental conditions. Our goal is to ensure that all people in Columbia County have the opportunity for a healthy life.