Today, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced that the state requirement for masking for K-12 schools will be lifted on March 31. Masks continue to be required for all students and staff, per Oregon law, through March 31. Wearing masks on buses will continue to be required, per federal guidelines.
After March 31, the decision to require universal masking will rest with local school districts, charter schools and local public health authorities. This means, after March 31, Bend-La Pine Schools will strongly recommend and no longer require mask wearing, in accordance with our current operational plan.
As a reminder, in August 2021, the Bend-La Pine Schools Board of Directors approved our current Operational Plan that included the following provision:
“...should OAR 333-019-1015 expire or become rescinded by Governor proclamation, and local control of decision making be reinstated AND the date is at least 60-90 days after COVID-19 vaccines have become readily available to students age 5 - 12 years old, it would be our recommendation for indoor masking to move to “strongly recommended” rather than “required” for all students and staff.”
“This time frame will give us the time to prepare for the transition from an operational standpoint and will give all of our staff and families time to get vaccinated or boosted, if they are not yet already. Masking will continue to be recommended and remains one of the many layers of our mitigation strategies that include ventilation, distancing, hand washing and more,” said Superintendent Steven Cook.
We are continuing to process this new information and will share details as we learn more. Over the coming weeks, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is expected to incorporate this new guidance into Ready Schools Safe Learners (RSSL) protocols.
Additionally, today, health officials at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) filed an update with the Oregon Secretary of State for the rule that requires people to wear masks while indoors in public places, replacing a temporary rule that expires Feb. 8.