Local schools adjust to updated mask guidance
Canby, Molalla River and Colton school districts have updated their face mask protocols following updates from federal and state health agencies.
The Centers for Disease Control made waves on May 13 when it announced relaxed COVID-19 masking requirements for those who are vaccinated. They said fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state or local entities.
"Fully vaccinated individual" is defined as someone who has received one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine or both doses of a two-dose vaccine after at least 14 days have passed since their final dose.
The Oregon Health Authority followed suit on May 18, prompting the Oregon Department of Education to clarify its stance on the use of masks in schools.
In a letter to school leaders on May 19, ODE Director Colt Gill noted that generally, the mask updates do not impact the guidance schools have been following.
"However, these updates do impact students, families and staff before and after school, and we are making some minor (guidance) allowances to allow local districts, charter schools and private schools to better align to these changes," Gill said in the letter.
Gill went on to say that no one needs to wear face coverings at outdoor sporting events, including the athletes; fully vaccinated people do not need to wear face coverings at indoor sporting events when vaccination status is checked by the school; people are not required to mask at outdoor graduation ceremonies; and fully vaccinated people do not need to wear face coverings at indoor graduation ceremonies when vaccination status is checked by the school.
Furthermore, when at school, people are no longer required to wear face coverings outdoors, and fully vaccinated staff are not required to wear face coverings inside when students are not present and vaccination status is checked by the school. Fully vaccinated people also need not mask for indoor school board meetings when vaccination status is checked by the school.
Canby Superintendent Trip Goodall sent out a message to families on Tuesday, May 24 to announce the following changes to the district's masking protocols.
• As of Wednesday, May 26, students and staff do not need to wear face coverings outdoors during recess or outdoor learning, but six feet of physical distancing is still required.
• As of June 1, fully vaccinated staff are not required to wear face coverings or physically distance inside district facilities when students are not present.
• As of June 1, no one will be required to wear face coverings during outdoor sports or community use of district outdoor facilities. However, physical distancing and capacity limitations are still required for all outdoor events and activities.
• Face coverings remain required for student athletes (with some exceptions), coaches or spectators for indoor sports.
• No one is required to wear face coverings at outdoor graduation ceremonies. Pending further updates, all physical distancing and capacity restrictions will still apply.
• Fully vaccinated people are not required to wear face masks or physically distance at indoor school board meetings if children are not present. Adults must provide proof of vaccination to the district.
Molalla did not initially make any changes to its school masking protocol but did commit to reviewing guidance and potentially making future changes. And the district did so.
As of Tuesday, June 1, students who wish to remove their masks during outside activity and/or instruction may do so, according to Superintendent Tony Mann. At the elementary level, that means recess; for the secondary level, that means outdoor instruction.
Students who choose to remove their masks during these outside activities must still keep their mask on their person, such as in their pocket, or they may simply pull their mask down. Students are required to wear their masks to reenter the building.
Indoors, all individuals are still required to wear face coverings and maintain physical distance during the school day.
Molalla also updated the protocol for sports. Now, face coverings will not be required for anyone during outdoor K-12 sporting events. Physical distancing and capacity limitations are still required for all school-related events and activities.
In Colton, face coverings will still be required during the school day for all individuals.
However, face coverings will not be required for outdoor sporting events.
And face coverings will no longer be required at indoor sporting events for student athletes or spectators who are fully vaccinated, upon proof of vaccination status. Physical distancing and capacity limiations are still required.
Colton specified that no one will be required to wear face coverings at outdoor graduation ceremonies.
"We will continue to keep our school community informed as health and safety protocols and guidelines get updated or change," Superintendent Koreen Barreras-Brown said in a letter to families Wednesday, May 26. "Thank you for your cooperation and partnership in keeping our schools safe and welcoming places as we close out the school year."
This story has been updated to reflect new changes to Molalla's protocols.
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