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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown directed OHA and ODE to require masks indoors for K-12 schools

COURTESY FILE PHOTO - Lucas Baldridge shows off a craft project after returning to the school building in March 2021.

All Oregon K-12 students will be returning to school in the fall wearing masks.

Canby School District had initially announced that masks would be optional in the 2021-22 school year, but that changed after an announcement from Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday, July 29.

"I've directed Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education to require masks indoors for K-12 schools for the 2021-22 school year, in line with CDC guidance," Brown said in social media posts with a full statement attached that read, "The science and data are clear: the Delta variant is in our communities, and it is more contagious. My priority is to ensure our kids are able to safely return to full-time, in-person learning this fall, five days per week with minimal disruptions.

"With many children still ineligible to be vaccinated, masks are an effective way to help keep our kids safe in the classroom, the learning environment we know serves them best.

COURTESY FILE PHOTO - Students in teacher Cindy Jarmer's class model distancing and mask wearing at school.

"In the meantime, as we ask Oregonians statewide to mask up in public indoor spaces, we will continue working hard to vaccinate more people so we can finally beat this virus once and for all. Vaccines remain the most effective and best way to protect ourselves and our families."

Canby's new superintendent, Aaron Downs, sent out a message the same day to families.

"This directive (from Brown) changes our ability to have local control over face coverings in our schools," Downs said in the letter. "That means, regardless of vaccination status, all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear a face covering in all of our facilities."

Downs said he does not know how long the requirement will last and what it means for athletics, activities or other school events. He said he expects to receive additional information from ODE.

Kristen Wohlers
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