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

Despite some vocal opposition, Oregonians expressed widespread support for K-12 school-mask mandates, according to a survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.

The survey shows that 70% of residents support mask mandates in schools, 23% are opposed and 6% are unsure. Support among people without school-age children was 72%, while support among parents of school-age children was 65%.

Gov. Kate Brown announced a mask mandate for K-12 schools in July to slow the spread of the coronavirus and the highly contagious delta variant. The rule applies to everyone indoors and outdoors.

People living in urban areas were more likely than people living in rural areas to support mask mandates in schools, according to the survey. The majority of Oregonians do not believe wearing masks jeopardizes children’s health and safety, learning capacity, potential or outcomes, teachers’ instructional effectiveness and children’s and families’ freedom.

Amaury Vogel, associate executive director of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, called the data “surprising.”

People opposed to the governor’s mask mandate have interrupted school board meetings throughout the state, and even some superintendents and school boards have challenged the mandate.

“To see that many people support it was kind of surprising,” she said.

Jim Fields, a Deschutes County resident and grandparent of two kindergartners, characterized opposition to the mask mandate as a divisive political lever. He said he supports the mask mandate especially because it means his grandchildren can stay in school.

“It doesn’t seem like mask wearing bothers them at all,” Fields said. “The most important thing for I think both of them is that socialization that school gives them.”

The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center is an independent, nonpartisan organization. The center’s online survey, conducted from Oct. 8-18, was sent to 1,403 Oregon residents. The margin of error is between 1.6% to 2.6%.

The survey also gauged Oregonians’ support of vaccine mandates for children 12 years and older, which significantly fewer people favor.

About 57% of Oregonians supported vaccine mandates for children ages 12 years and older, while 33% were opposed and 11% unsure.

Oregonians living in urban areas were more likely than people in rural parts of the state to support vaccine mandates for children 12 years and older.

Two-thirds of those living in the three-county Portland area supported vaccine mandates for children 12 and older, while less than half of those living outside the three-county area and the Willamette Valley supported a mandate.

Oregonians ages 65 and older were also significantly more likely than people between the ages of 18 and 44 to support vaccine mandates for children ages 12 and older.

Only 45% of parents supported a vaccine mandate for children age 12 and older, compared to 61% of nonparents.

“This is likely indicative of continued concerns over long-term side effects of vaccination, as well as a lower probability of severe symptoms and hospitalization among infected children,” the organization said.

In an August survey, parents were more hesitant about vaccines for children under 12 than the general population is about vaccines for adults. A little more than half said they would vaccinate their young child if shots approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration became available.

The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Oregon health officials have approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11. Oregon officials on Wednesday issued standing orders allowing providers to begin administering the vaccine as soon as supplies become available.

Donna Casey, called a mask and vaccine mandate a “no-brainer.”

As a mother of a senior at Summit High School in Bend and statistician who spent over a decade teaching at Central Oregon Community College, Casey believes they are simple measures to protect more people from dying. She called opposition to the mask mandate from parents and school boards selfish.

“We’re talking about people’s lives here, and that doesn’t seem to be the main focus,” Casey said.

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(4) comments

Stig

I have looked over OVBC’s website and am even more leery. I believe the people they use in their surveys must first register with the organization in order to belong to a panel. Then the OVBC just hits up the same self-selected population for surveys over and over. This seems bogus if true. Where is the scrutiny journalists are supposed to exercise?

Stig

I have no reason to believe that the results of this survey are inaccurate. However, partnering with a polling outfit (as EO and Pamplin praise themselves for doing) compromises an organization's ability to report critically on its findings and methods. Even the appearance of objectivity is gone. The fawning language in the more-information box gives this the appearance of a puff piece.

91184

They also could have vetted the polling firm's methods before partnering with them. The side note regarding the firm is there to note that they have passed a certain level of scrutiny and are worthy of being published in the paper.

68836

From the website of Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (OVBC), an independent, non-profit, nonpartisan research group:

“From October 8-18, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including on the impact of COVID-19 on our community. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.

The online survey consisted of 1,403 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Demographic quotas and statistical weighting were used to ensure a representative sample. Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.6% to ±2.6% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.

Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.”

Primary sponsors of OVBC include entities such as Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Sciences University. I don’t see journalism groups such as EO Media and Pamplin Media in OVBC’s list of sponsors. Media/Bias Fact Check (mediabiasfactcheck.com – an interesting site if you ever want to see the bias of your favorite news source) 7/10/2020 scored Pamplin Media as left-centered editorials but High in Factual Reporting. I cannot find EO Media listed.

As the study suggests, results are preliminary and more in-depth research is needed. I suspect the ultimate answer will come from the voters during the next cycle of school board, county commissioner, major, city council, and other state/local elections. Please vote.

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