redmond school

Students wear masks as they file into Sage Elementary School on the first day back to school in Redmond in September.

The Redmond School Board, noting the need for hope in the face of the ongoing pandemic, has called on the Oregon Health Authority to explain when local decision-makers will be allowed to resume control over wearing masks in schools.

“For going on two years now, our schools have been disrupted by this virus,” all five board members said in a letter Wednesday to the health authority and Gov. Kate Brown. “We understand its dangers, and we respect that districts must take precautions to keep our students and staff safe. However, here in Redmond as in other parts of the state, there is a great deal of COVID-19 fatigue. We need hope, a light at the end of the tunnel.”

After the governor announced a mask mandate for everyone indoors and outdoors at K-12 schools in July, the state’s guidance for schools was updated to include the new rule, along with a caveat that the health authority would review the requirement on a monthly basis .

“Since then, OHA has never provided any evidence of its monthly review, nor has it provided any information to the public about what, if any, guidelines it would use to determine when masks were no longer required in K-12 schools and when districts could expect local decision-making to return,” the letter said.

“We need clear information about when we can expect local decision-making to return — what type of metrics our county needs to meet, for example, in order to see masks left up to our capable school leaders.”

Rudy Owens, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority, told The Bulletin the health authority will reply to the school district.

He said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend universal masking in schools due to the circulating and highly contagious delta variant that has driven a surge in cases statewide and nationally.

“Mask wearing is one of many measures that can be used reduce the spread of COVID-19, in schools and other indoor settings, including from people who have the virus but no symptoms,” Owens said in an email. “In addition to masks, OHA also encourages other steps, such as getting vaccinated, staying home when one is sick, regularly washing of one’s hands, and maintaining physical distance.”

The Redmond School Board has been outspoken about its desire for local control over coronavirus protection measures.

After the mask mandate, Brown announced all K-12 staff would be required to get vaccinated against the virus or get approved for a religious or medical exemption by Oct. 18.

The board responded by approving a resolution vowing to pursue all appropriate actions, including but not limited to legal action and use of the medical and religious exemptions.

Earlier this month, the board hired Dan Thenell, a Portland-based attorney, to explore legal options. After consulting with Thenell, the board decided against legal action.

When the vaccination deadline arrived last week, Redmond School District announced 100% compliance with the mandate. Of the district’s 940 employees, 83% were vaccinated and 17% filed for medical or religious exemptions.

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(2) comments


Short answer: When it is safe. A better question: Has anybody asked the Redmond school board how much that lawyer cost taxpayers?

Tom Pained

What a bunch of snowflakes. Waah, we’re suffering from “COVID fatigue”. Better “COVID fatigue” than the COVID virus. Can you imagine if this group of whiners (one who in a prior article claimed by wearing a mask she was belittling the sacrifices of our soldiers, what an ignorant excuse) were in the Continental Army at Valley Forge under Washington? ‘Waah General, it’s cold, we’re tired of the diseases ripping through the camp. And now you want us to get inoculated against smallpox?’ What great examples they are setting for their students. When the going gets tough complain of fatigue and ask someone to make it stop.

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