PORTLAND, Oregon — Pressure is mounting on Oregon school districts to make a decision on whether students and staff will be required to wear masks this fall, after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee confirmed a mask mandate for K-12 schools Wednesday.
When Oregon Gov. Kate Brown dropped statewide mask rules, the decision returned to local school districts and local public health authorities. So far, few have made public decisions on whether they will require students and staff to wear masks in the fall.
The Lake Oswego School District made a tentative decision that masks will be required. The district announced that it plans to require students age 11 and younger to wear masks inside buildings. Officials chose that age limit because the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for children 12 and older. Anyone under 12 can't be vaccinated, so they remain vulnerable to catching COVID-19. District officials recommend students 12 and older wear masks, but as of now, it won't be required. The policy does not specify whether students who choose not to wear masks will need to be vaccinated.
The full school board will vote on the plan Monday, August 2.
Here is where some of Oregon's largest districts currently stand on masks:
- Portland Public Schools: The largest school district in the state has not yet decided. A spokesman said the district has no timeline for when leaders will decide.
- Salem-Keizer School District: Oregon's second-largest district is finalizing a plan. According to Sylvia McDaniel, a spokesperson for the district, the district is working with families before setting its policies. A final plan will be shared at the August 10 board meeting.
- Hillsboro School District: An initial announcement is expected July 29, allowing time for public input. A final plan is expected by August 6.
One school district has decided not to require masks: Silver Falls School District, which covers Silverton and Scotts Mills.
"We do not plan to require masks for any students or staff members in the coming school year," spokesperson Derek McElfresh wrote in an email.
Have a comment or story idea for Pat Dooris? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org