KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — For the second time in as many months, the Klamath County School District board of directors has passed a resolution urging Governor Kate Brown to roll back statewide COVID-19 mandates for schools in favor of local control over those decisions.
KCSD said in a statement that this resolution is similar to one approved and sent to the state on August 19, arguing that local control is needed "to best educate students throughout the geographically and culturally diverse county school district." The new resolution will be sent to Governor Brown, the Oregon Department of Education, and the Oregon Health Authority.
ODE's guidance for schools includes mandates that originated with Governor Brown, including the requirement that masks be worn inside and in crowded outdoor spaces, and that K-12 teachers and staff be fully vaccinated by October 18. KCSD has asked that these requirements be changed to recommendations.
“I was voted onto the school board by people in the community who expected me to be a voice for them,” board member Marc Staunton said. “There is a lot of misconception about how much power a school board has, especially during these times. It’s become very difficult to voice our personal beliefs, but if we don’t express our discontent the state mandates will continue.”
“To remain quiet is acquiescence,” board member Laura Blair agreed. “The state needs to keep hearing us. We need local control.”
Board members John Rademacher, Steve Lowell and Jill O'Donnell also joined in support, and the board unanimously approved the updated resolution at its September 16 meeting.
KCSD said that Superintendent Glen Szymoniak was one of two administrators invited to a meeting with ODE officials to discuss local control mitigation strategies following the District's first resolution in August. Szymoniak reported that the meeting did not result in any immediate action, but its "a good sign that the state is discussing the needs of local school districts."