COVID-19: Protecting Youth In OYA Facilities

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OYA has put in place many new procedures to protect youth and staff in OYA facilities.

NOTE: Original post from April 16, 2020. 

UPDATE July 20, 2020 – This post has been updated to reflect the reopening of schools in OYA facilities.

UPDATE June 18, 2020 – This post has been updated to reflect additional precautions being taken, and new procedures now that counties and facilities are slowly reopening. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OYA has put in place many new procedures to protect youth and staff in OYA facilities.

  • Cleaning and Disinfection
    • All living areas in facilities are cleaned many times a day, following CDC recommendations. This includes disinfecting living units, bathrooms, eating areas, doors, countertops, etc.
    • When one group is in a common area, or when they use common recreation equipment, they clean and sanitize before another group comes in.
  • Handwashing and Personal Hygiene
    • Youth have been educated in how to stop the spread of the coronavirus. All youth have access to soap and water for handwashing. Posters in all OYA facilities encourage youth to wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, to cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow or into a tissue, and to avoid touching their face. These are the most effective methods to prevent the spread of illness.
  • Face Coverings
    • All Facilities staff and contractors are required to wear face coverings while working with youth and other staff.
    • According to the CDC, only patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, and staff working with these patients, should wear medical-grade face masks. We supply these to youth in quarantine or medical isolation.
    • Youth not in quarantine or medical isolation may wear non-medical-grade face coverings if they wish. OYA ordered ready-made face coverings plus materials for youth to make their own. Many generous individuals have also donated them to our facilities.
  • Physical Distancing and Reducing Contacts with Others
    • All facilities were closed to visitors, volunteers, and non-essential employees as of March 14.
    • Staff are required to maintain a six-foot distance from other staff. Some exceptions apply: for example, if staff need to participate in an extended physical intervention or multiple staff are needed to transport youth.
    • As much as possible, youth are staying together by living unit.
    • We temporarily closed schools, vocational activities, and many volunteer-led enrichment activities. We found ways to re-establish some of these activities remotely. 
    • In July, schools at OYA facilities began to reopen. We worked with the Oregon Department of Education and assisted local school districts in creating reopening plans that are safe for staff and youth. As of July 20, 2020, all of our facilities are in Phase 2 counties except MacLaren. Learn more about the plan to safely reopen Lord High School at MacLaren here
    • We have restricted the number of youth in certain areas to increase physical distancing.
    • Youth in dorms are now sleeping head to toe, to increase distance.
    • In facilities at baseline:
      • We have limited remaining group activities to fewer than 10 people at a time, from the same living unit, and only if they can stay six feet apart.
    • In facilities located in Phase 1 counties with approved safety plans:
      • Contracted psychologists and psychiatrists, religious volunteers, and direct treatment service providers can enter. Like everyone else entering our facilities, they must undergo the health screening at entry, wear face masks, practice good hand hygiene, and maintain physical distance.
      • Youth may participate in treatment, education, work, and volunteer-led religious activities with youth from other living units. Group sizes are limited to 10, and the same 10 youth must be in each group for all off-unit activities.
      • Youth may receive hair care services, following statewide guidelines.
    • In facilities located in Phase 2 counties with approved safety plans:
      • As of mid-June, facilities moving into Phase 2 can begin to allow limited, no-contact visiting, except for a hug at the beginning and at the end of the visit. (See these guidelines on how to hug in a way that prevents spreading germs.) All visitors will be asked to take their temperature at entry and have no symptoms of COVID-19. Visitors and youth will need to wear face coverings and stay six feet apart.  
  • Staff and Contractors Self-Screen Upon Arrival
    • Staff and contractors must self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and wash their hands before entering a facility.
    • All visitors must scan themselves with an infrared thermometer to verify they do not have a fever (100.4 degrees or higher).  
  • All Facilities Have Quarantine and Medical Isolation Areas
    • OYA has set up areas in each of its facilities to quarantine youth without symptoms who may have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. We have also set up medical isolation areas for youth who have symptoms or test positive.
    • Staff working with youth in quarantine or medical isolation have appropriate protective equipment. Youth in quarantine are asked to wear a medical-grade mask.
    • We get youth tested for COVID-19 when they show symptoms (such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath), or when a health care provider recommends it. OYA uses CDC/OHA guidance on appropriate criteria for testing. Those who are being tested and/or awaiting results, and who show symptoms, will be medically isolated.
  • Modified Intake for Incoming Youth
    • We created a new process at MacLaren to hold all new male intakes and male youth entering for parole violations in a separate living unit for a 14-day period. The 14-day hold is to make sure they don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 before we transfer them to their longer-term living unit or another facility.
    • At Oak Creek, our facility for young women, incoming youth are given an initial medical screen and an assessment to determine where they’ve been housed recently. They are then held in quarantine for up to 14 days — days spent in prior settings that were COVID-free (such as detention) count toward the total. After their quarantine period expires, they are moved into a living unit with the general population.


  1. […] COVID-19: Protecting Youth in OYA Facilities […]

  2. […] Here’s a more complete listing of what OYA is doing to keep youth in our facilities safe. […]

  3. Thank you for protecting our youth!

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