Students without masks crowded into the vestibule of Sherwood High School in a protest against COVID-19 rules.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - Chief Ty HanlonSherwood's new police chief said he was disappointed by students not wearing masks forcing their way into Sherwood High School on Tuesday, Feb. 8, as well as apparent instigators who had no connection to the city or the school district.

His comments came Thursday, Feb. 10, via the Sherwood Police Department's Facebook page, where he addressed the protests at Sherwood High School, Sherwood Middle School and the Sherwood School District's main office.

"At the high school, students approached the single point of entrance, which was being monitored by three staff members," Hanlon wrote in his post. "When they were denied entrance, they did not disperse but instead forced their way through the school staff and into the vestibule."

The chief said those students then congregated, attempted to enter the school, and unable to do so, they left and looked for other entrances.

Sherwood School Superintendent Heather Cordie wrote in a district letter that the gathering was "not safe."

While Hanlon acknowledged that the police department doesn't enforce school policy, he said his department will continue to review the day's events and respond to any issues that may rise to a criminal level.

"In the past, we have worked with organizers of protests to assure their ability to express their First Amendment rights peacefully and safely," wrote Hanlon, who was named police chief in January. "Unfortunately, we received no direct communication from the organizers of this protest."

The Oregon Department of Education announced Monday that a statewide mandate requiring masks in schools would remain in effect until March 31, even if the Oregon Health Authority lifts a mandate before that time.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!