Good afternoon, Silver Falls Families.

As many of you may have already heard, state officials today unveiled new guidelines related to face coverings in schools. Though the Omicron variant of COVID-19 remains highly transmissible and active throughout the state, experts believe we are now past the peak of the so-called ‘Omicron surge’, and in fact across the state we’ve seen a precipitous decline in new daily case counts.

In today’s press release, the state announced that no later than March 31st, the statewide indoor masking rule will be lifted. This change is related to the statewide hospitalizations related to COVID-19, and so may occur sooner, but will not occur later.

For schools, on March 31st, the mandatory mask mandate will be lifted. This rule affecting schools will not be lifted sooner than March 31st, even if the statewide indoor mandate is lifted sooner. To be clear, as of March 31st, the indoor mask rule for schools will be returned to local control.

For Silver Falls School District, our intention at this time is that effective March 31st, masks and other face coverings will be optional, and no longer required in any district facility. This is subject to board discussion at next week’s school board meeting, as well as the removal of this rule as stated by OHA in today’s announcement. Our local public health authority does carry the authority to mandate masks in school settings even if not required by the state, but at this time we do not expect that to occur. Note that even following the removal of this rule, masks will still be required on school buses, per current federal guidelines. Additionally, individuals traveling to other districts for athletics or other events should note that masks may still be required in other districts, and compliance with those requirements will be enforced by those local authorities.

More information will be communicated in the coming weeks. Existing COVID protocols will be impacted by the removal of universal masking within our schools, and the extent of those impacts are not yet fully understood. As we learn more and have additional information, we will share that with our community.

Have a great day.