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SchoolWatch: Gov. Brown calls on Oregon school officials to heed mask requirements and preserve in-person classes

Governor Kate Brown responded on Tuesday to murmurs from some parents and school officials around the state threatening to avoid mask requirements.

Posted: Aug 17, 2021 9:44 AM
Updated: Aug 17, 2021 6:37 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown responded on Tuesday to murmurs from some parents and school officials around the state threatening to avoid mask requirements, calling on Oregon's educational community to heed the mandate and work to ensure that students can attend school full-time and in-person this year.

“Throughout this pandemic, my north star for decisions about our schools has been to do what is best for our students. We know that students’ mental, physical, behavioral, social, and emotional health is best served when they can be in schools for full-time, in-person instruction,” said Governor Brown. “The Delta variant puts this goal at risk. It puts our children’s health and lives at risk. But, by again taking simple and effective precautions, we can still return our children to classrooms full-time this fall.”

Brown's office said that most Oregon districts have been moving forward with the state's health and safety plans for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming school district, but they cited "troubling statements and actions" from some local school leaders indicating that they might ignore the state requirements.


RELATED: Gov. Brown directs state agencies to require masks in K-12 schools


According to Brown's office, several school boards have passed or are considering resolutions opposing Oregon's K-12 indoor mask rule. In one school district, a superintendent reportedly encouraged parents to "make false claims on behalf of their children by requesting mask exemptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

In a letter addressed to Oregon superintendents and school board members, Governor Brown called on districts to reject taking actions that defy state and federal laws in order to protect students' health and safety.

School boards for both the Eagle Point and Medford school districts have approved resolutions lobbying Brown for a return of local control on measures concerning COVID-19.

“Because that’s the thing about masks: they don’t just protect you, they protect everyone around you," Brown said. "Wearing a mask is an act of kindness. By wearing masks, we are teaching our children that they can protect each other in the classroom. That we can all work together to keep each other safe. When I visited classrooms this spring, I saw children who were overjoyed to be with their friends and teachers again. For them, safety protocols were not a burden but a benefit, giving them a reprieve from virtual classrooms and isolation from their peers."

Brown's office indicated that the mask requirement can be enforced by Oregon OSHA under state law, as with previous COVID-19 workplace countermeasures during the pandemic. Monday's statement also implied that following current restrictions would be necessary to keep kids in the classroom full-time with "minimal disruptions."

“I have heard much about personal freedom when it comes to masks in school board meetings and on social media. I have not heard as much said about personal responsibility," Brown continued. "As leaders, we have a great responsibility to our students and their futures. One of the sacred, fundamental responsibilities of a school district and its leaders is to keep the children in their care safe. It is up to us to make clear-eyed decisions based on science and fact. Flouting mask requirements will put everything we have worked towards in the last year at risk. Without the universal wearing of masks in our schools, the Delta variant will spread.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 348766

Reported Deaths: 4161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54797689
Washington37988313
Marion36055444
Clackamas29094304
Lane26966298
Jackson22632300
Deschutes19577123
Umatilla14241144
Linn12380120
Douglas11795240
Josephine9233195
Yamhill8517110
Klamath7709110
Polk715380
Malheur551574
Benton529130
Coos489691
Columbia371343
Jefferson361450
Union313146
Lincoln310638
Wasco281540
Crook274745
Clatsop239529
Baker198028
Tillamook193328
Hood River188337
Morrow181623
Curry178122
Harney108424
Grant97612
Lake89011
Wallowa67012
Gilliam1484
Sherman1463
Wheeler991
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4812309

Reported Deaths: 70616
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147679126410
Riverside3693444990
San Diego3646344163
San Bernardino3563155566
Orange3227415518
Sacramento1576212279
Santa Clara1445181890
Kern1441461605
Fresno1441232051
Alameda1198871374
San Joaquin1018071708
Ventura1005241164
Contra Costa99234982
Stanislaus851571315
Tulare78945951
San Francisco54031645
San Mateo53828622
Monterey50696582
Solano45761334
Santa Barbara44836521
Merced41781577
Sonoma40711402
Placer38902415
Imperial35642764
Kings32369314
San Luis Obispo29653329
Madera23518281
Butte23364260
Shasta23360334
Santa Cruz20861218
Yolo20147247
Marin17581243
El Dorado16960149
Sutter13775169
Napa12808100
Yuba994282
Tehama9298104
Humboldt9102108
Nevada903990
Mendocino752786
Lassen746346
San Benito737372
Tuolumne673993
Lake6506104
Amador537264
Siskiyou442742
Glenn430330
Calaveras381780
Del Norte356141
Colusa301718
Inyo196739
Mono16445
Plumas15756
Mariposa127315
Trinity86011
Modoc6698
Unassigned1860
Sierra1760
Alpine1020
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Medford
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