Dear CSD Staff and Families,
Yesterday, Governor Brown directed the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to develop a rule aligning to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance requiring masks indoors for K-12 schools statewide for the 2021-22 school year. This announcement means that mask guidance in schools will be mandatory in the coming year and that this decision will no longer be made at the District level. Furthermore, we were notified by the ODE that, “A school that violates the rule will be subject to civil penalties.”
The rule will include provisions for:
- Eating or drinking.
- Playing a musical instrument that requires using the mouth.
- Swimming or other water sports.
- Engaging in a sport in which wearing a mask could be a strangulation hazard such as gymnastics or wrestling.
- Nothing in the rule is intended to prohibit a school from complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, or the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Governor’s announcement, which reversed the local authority to make this decision, was swift and unexpected to me, but not uncommon. At this point, we are several weeks out from the start of school and the situation with COVID-19 changes rapidly, and as you have seen over the past year and a half and this week, so does the direction from CDC, the Governor, OHA, and ODE.
Throughout the coming weeks, I will process this new mask mandate and other ODE guidance with representatives from ODE, OHA, Lane County Public Health, Oregon School Boards Association Legal Team, the Coalition of School Administrators and the Lane County Superintendents. More specifically, I will seek clarity from ODE on the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework guidance for the masking rule, the amount/type of civil penalty for noncompliance, and the position of our insurance carrier for COVID-19 related liability coverage.
As always, I will update you when I receive additional information to share.
For questions to ODE, please click on this link: ODE.COVID19@ode.state.or.us
Mike Johnson, Superintendent