Good afternoon, Silver Falls Families.
Governor Brown announced yesterday that she has asked the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to create a rule requiring masks in schools for the upcoming 2021-22 school year. The full press release is available here.
As reported by KGW on Wednesday, Silver Falls School District has maintained since June that we would not require masks in schools in the coming school year. This decision was based on Governor Brown and ODE’s shift to local control for COVID prevention measures and policies, as well as our belief that we can provide a safe, healthy learning environment for all students without requiring masks.
At this time we do not have any new information on what this new mandate will entail. To be clear, the only information we have is the Governor’s press release linked above. Neither ODE nor OHA have yet released a rule requiring masks in schools this Fall. We expect that rule is coming, but until we see it, we don’t know what its implementation will look like in our district.
We’ve heard from many parents and community members that the district has a responsibility, or mandate, from our community to disregard any new rule requiring masks in schools this year. Likewise, we know that many in our district have concerns regarding the delta variant of COVID-19 currently impacting communities across the state and across the country, and are pleased at the Governor’s action.
As a government organization, Silver Falls School District has the responsibility, both fiduciarily and ethically, to obey laws, rules, and mandates handed down by state authorities. Our commitment to wise and effective stewardship transcends any one issue. It is not the district’s place to pick and choose the laws and rules that govern us.
We assure you that Silver Falls School District’s official stance is known by those at ODE and OHA, as we are, to our knowledge, the only local school district to maintain the official position of not requiring masks next year throughout the summer. We encourage all in our community to let lawmakers in Salem know your feelings on this issue, whether for or against this new mask rule.
Regardless of whether or not masks are required in the coming school year, we at Silver Falls School District will continue to focus on our most important responsibilities – a return to five days per week of in-person schooling, and providing a high quality education for every student who walks through our doors.