Masks required in Oregon schools and state agency buildings
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — It has been a month since Oregon lifted statewide coronavirus-related restrictions, but this week Gov. Kate Brown has announced the reimplementation of mask requirements in schools and state agency buildings.
The return of some mask mandates in Oregon follows a surge in COVID-19 cases — due to the highly transmissible delta variant — and updated masking guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The science and data are clear: the Delta variant is spreading in our communities and is more contagious,” Brown said Friday. “This mask requirement will protect Oregonians, many of whom have been on the frontlines of the pandemic and who continue to provide essential services to Oregonians."
The latest mandate occurred Friday, when Gov. Brown announced new mask guidance for Executive Branch state agencies. The new guidance requires all state employees, visitors or customers — regardless of vaccination status — in any indoor state agency space to wear face coverings. The mandate is effective immediately.
As cases continue to increase across the country, the CDC announced updated masking guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that people — vaccinated or not — return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is rampant.
The Oregon Health Authority followed suit in urging people to wear mask in indoor public spaces, but stopped short of reinstating an indoor mask mandate.
The CDC also recommended masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors inside of schools, regardless of vaccination status.
On Thursday Brown announced that the state of Oregon will require students and staff in K-12 schools to wear masks indoors this fall
In a statement from the Oregon Department of Education, officials say they are working to create a rule requiring face coverings in all indoor school settings — both public and private — for all individuals 2 and older. This includes students, staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors.
The rule will include provisions for eating, drinking, playing a musical instrument that requires using the mouth and certain sports — including swimming, gymnastics and wrestling.
Officials say the rule will take effect upon adoption, but the exact date is unclear.
Sara Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.