HDESD Stance on Health and Safety

teacher at desk with mask

Health and Safety

This set of standards was emailed to staff in early October and is copied on this page for easy access. You can download a copy of the PDF to print-and-post or share with partners.

The High Desert Education Service District (HDESD) has taken a firm and proactive stance on health and safety during the global pandemic. While we cannot avoid risk, there are many things we can and will do to mitigate it. Because the nature of the work of an ESD is to serve students and families across many different schools, communities and districts, we are erring on the side of safety to minimize the risk of exposure both from and to our staff.

We are working virtually whenever possible and we are diligently following all state health and safety guidelines when our students and families need our in-person expertise and support. The guidelines, created by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), include specific recommendations for social distancing and wearing face masks, face shields, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as warranted by the situation.

We work every day to put kids first, take care of each other and be innovative and responsive to the needs of our students, families, partner school districts and communities. Each of these core values continues to guide our decision-making as we strive for excellence. Listed below are the standards HDESD employees are to follow in order to take care of themselves and those they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Regardless of what others may be doing in any given shared spaces, HDESD employees are required to follow OHA/ODE health and safety guidelines.
  • HDESD employees working alone in contained workspaces are not required to keep their masks on; once they go into shared spaces or others come into their contained workspace, they are to put on their masks.
  • HDESD has supplies of appropriate PPE for all employees to use while working. Staff are to talk to their supervisor if they have questions about using and accessing PPE.
  • If HDESD employees are working in close proximity with individuals who are not wearing facial coverings, it is appropriate to ask them to put one on. Carrying an extra mask to offer is an available option.
  • If an individual outside of HDESD states that they can’t or won’t wear a facial covering, it is appropriate and advised that HDESD employees use greater social distancing to interact (more than 6 feet away), or set up a time to interact virtually.
  • HDESD employees should avoid getting into arguments with others and are encouraged to let others know HDESD’s organizational stance as an explanation for social distancing and/or removing themselves from situations in which state health and safety guidelines are not being implemented (e.g. “I have been told that I need to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines with others who are not wearing facial coverings. We can interact at a greater distance or set up another time and way to connect.”)
  • We encourage HDESD employees to let their supervisor know if they have concerns about others who are not following OHA/ODE guidelines as supervisors may be able to support employees at the systems level.
  • HDESD employees are reminded that before kindergarten, children are not required to wear masks or facial coverings.

How we provide services
As a regional service provider that interacts with many districts, schools and community partners, we are taking a cautious and conservative approach to the ways in which we serve children, families and districts.

  • We are using the ODE guidelines that recommend staff who work across different schools, districts and families limit their exposure to no more than 3 public health cohorts of kids per day and 5 public health cohorts of kids per week.
  • Our staff who serve children and families within a contained and stable public health cohort or program may be asked to serve in person as metrics allow.
  • Our staff will serve children, families and districts in person when it is necessary based on the specific needs of those we serve. These critical decisions will be made using these values:
    • Can the needs of the student/family be met virtually?
    • Are there specific needs that can only be addressed in person?
    • Do services need to be adjusted to address the 3 cohorts/day and 5 cohorts/week guideline?