Dear CSD Staff and Families,
I am eagerly looking forward to seeing students and staff in our halls in a few weeks’ time. As the new school year approaches, regulations governing schools continue to shift. At this time, the legal authority for local control over face coverings for all K-12 schools has been revoked by the state. Like you, I am frustrated by these swift changes. However, as a public servant and district superintendent, I am committed to enforcing and adhering to all policies in the District, which includes following all federal and state laws.
The Oregon Department of Education has updated the “Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resilience Framework for the 2021-22 School Year.” The update does require adherence to the Oregon Health Authority-developed rule and state enforced OAR 333-019-1015. This rule requires face coverings in all K-12 indoor school settings (public, private, parochial, and charter) for all students (exceptions include medical and IDEA disability accommodations), staff, contractors, visitors and volunteers.
It is important to note that adherence to state laws and mandates is not optional for school districts and the district faces liability, fines and educator sanctions for failure to comply with rules developed by OHA. On August 2, 2021, all school district superintendents were informed by OHA, ODE and OSBA PACE attorneys that violations of this rule would be considered gross neglect of duty and could result in penalties of $500 per day for each school, loss of licensure for superintendents, building administrators and teachers, and civil penalties for superintendents and school board members. We have also been informed that if we are out of compliance, we will have no lawsuit protection from HB 4402 and no insurance liability coverage.
Although this mandate is a shift from the original plan that I shared with the community on 7/27/2021, I will steadfastly continue to advocate for a return to local decision making. Your voice matters in Salem as well. You can share your thoughts with Governor Brown here. Remember, when advocating: avoid name calling, share your personal perspective, be concise and clear in your request, and provide your contact information.
Please also remember that the conditions of the virus remain fluid and are changing rapidly. The mask requirement will be reviewed at least monthly by the Oregon Health Authority and we will be ready to adjust accordingly.
As always, the health and safety of our staff, students and community is our first priority.
Again, we are very excited to have our students back in our schools full-time for in-person learning.
Mike Johnson, Superintendent