Masks will be optional for students and staff at the Canby School District starting March 31, Superintendent Aaron Downs announced Friday, following the news that the statewide mandate would be lifted that day and local districts would be free to implement their own policies.
“Since the announcement, we have worked with our local public health authority, school board, and staff to determine what this will look like in Canby,” Downs wrote, “Based on the input we’ve received, face coverings will be optional in the Canby School District beginning March 31.”
While the news that the state’s indoor mask mandate for schools would end March 31 — and likely before then in most other public spaces — was welcomed by parents, advocates and other opponents of Oregon’s coronavirus rules (which are among the strictest in the nation), it did come with some strings attached.
Districts that choose to make masks optional will have to come up with new plans to avoid an outbreak of the virus among students while also doing whatever they can to keep students in school.
They’ll no longer have access to the test-to-stay program that had allowed unvaccinated students to stay in school even after exposure as long as they test negative three to five days later. Instead, unvaccinated students will need to quarantine immediately after exposure, according to the new guidance from OHA.
Downs said Canby school officials plan to collaborate with the local health authority on issues like contact tracing and quarantine. They also expect to receive updated guidance from the Oregon Department of Education and will revise their protocols accordingly.
“We are grateful for our wonderful students, families, and staff who have partnered with us to make this a great school year so far,” Downs said. “We appreciate your continued partnership as we wear face coverings indoors at our schools until March 31, as required.”
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