Brown: Students, teachers, state employees, office visitors must wear masks
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is requiring that masks be worn by state employees, K-12 school students and K-12 school employees indoors to slow the spread of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
Brown is also considering requiring state employees to prove they have been vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests, with limited exceptions.
Brown made the announcement over two days. She said on July 29 that all school K-12 students and employees will be required to wear masks during the coming school year. She added all employees and visitors in state buildings on Friday.
"The science and data are clear: the Delta variant is in our communities, and it is more contagious," Brown said on both days, saying that her priority is protecting students, front line workers and the community.
The delta variant of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 first appeared in India and has spread throughout the United States, creating a resurgence of the pandemic.
According to the announcements, the requirements are in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recently updated guidance, and based on the latest science on the spread of the Delta variant.
On July 27, Portland Public Schools staff said they were still waiting on definitive guidance from state and federal education officials about whether masks would be required in schools this fall.
"As we prepare for fall reopening, we continue to monitor COVID-19 and the delta variant, while preparing for multiple layers of protection, including hand hygiene, air filters and circulation, regular cleaning and disinfection and of course, promoting access to the vaccine against COVID-19," Jonathan Garcia, chief of staff for PPS, said during a July 27 school board meeting. "We are seeing stronger alignment from public health experts and officials, that everyone indoors wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status."
Garcia said high school students now in summer school classes are wearing masks.
Two days later, the school district got that guidance, when the state mandated masks. The U.S. Department of Education also will follow CDC guidance for schools nationwide, requiring masks regardless of vaccination status.
"We will require masks for all students and staff as outlined by the governor's direction last week," a district spokesperson confirmed Monday.
"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," Brown said.
Reporter Courtney Vaughn contributed to this story.
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