Dear Santiam Community,
Today we learned that the mask mandate for Oregon schools is being lifted on March 31, giving districts the local option to decide about general mask wearing. Our intent all along has been to get our schools and students back to as close to a sense of normalcy as possible. This newly announced change will allow us to make another step in that direction. Our school board will have several regularly scheduled meetings prior to March 31 to weigh in, but they have historically supported and encouraged local control and optional masks. Our plans at this point are to prepare for this change, while continuing to keep some other safety protocols in place. This change does not mean we are taking safety any less seriously, but we are now able to also prioritize the other side effects that the pandemic has placed upon our students, staff and families. We are excited about this news today as we prepare for March 31.
Lifting the mask mandate does not mean masks will be gone. It simply becomes optional. We will continue to stock masks for anyone who chooses to wear one, and we will support all our students’, staffs’ and families’ decisions to wear one or not. In the Santiam Canyon, we STAND TOGETHER. We may not all choose the same option, but we can STAND TOGETHER as a community, in support of each other’s choices. With this news, it also needs to be noted that there will be some instances that masks are still required based on other state or federal rules. At the current time, we believe masks will still be required in the following situations:
- Masks are still required on all public transportation, such as buses (this is a Federal law, so the state cannot lift this)
- Masks will need to be worn for COVID exposed students who test back in on day 7, and must be worn then through day 10 while at school (Unless the state changes this rule in the meantime)
The news is still fresh and we are still processing though all the scenarios ahead, but I am encouraged by this change. We will continue to do what we can to limit COVID spread in our schools, to keep kids in school and learning, and to prevent large-scale spread that could threaten us from being shut down temporarily by OHA. So, in conclusion, we need to continue to do our part to help limit the spread of COVID, but widespread mandatory masking will not be required as of March 31.
These last few years have been a whirlwind. Thank you to the Santiam Community for your patience and support. It has been a trying time for many, and I just appreciate how well we have it here in the Canyon. As we learn more information over the next few weeks, we will keep you posted.
Thank you and please reach out if you have any questions.
Todd Miller, Superintendent