Masks coming off at Sisters schools

 

Last updated 3/9/2022 at Noon



The statewide mask mandate comes to a close March 12 and leaves the management of COVID-19 guidelines and protocols in the hands of the local school district.

Sisters School District Superintendent Curt Scholl says the District is in a good position to manage the local situation moving forward.

“We welcome the change because it allows us to respond to our own outbreaks in the community rather than the county as a whole,” he said. “We’ve only had about three COVID cases in the past three weeks in our schools, so our numbers have significantly dropped.

“We’ve always had health protocols in place, even before COVID, so it’s good to be able to go back to that,” he added.

Scholl said he doesn’t have any real concerns about the lifting of the mandate at this point.

“I think that one thing we have learned is that it is important to stay home if you are sick, regardless of what your illness might be,” he said. “I think our families have been super about taking care of their kids throughout the pandemic and we have every reason to expect that will continue even as the infection rate continues to drop.”

In the event things change again to the worse, Scholl is confident the District will be able to respond accordingly.

“We’ve been through a lot and learned a lot, so our systems are in place to respond as necessary if the infection rate creeps back up,” he said. “We can still quarantine or require isolation of cohorts or universal masking for a week or two since we have done all of those things before.”

The guidelines still include protocols for students who do become infected, including individual isolation at home, and also recommend general mitigation efforts to continue. These include handwashing, disinfecting, and proper airflow and circulation.

Scholl is grateful to the entire Sisters community for continually supporting the efforts of the school district during a very difficult time period.

“Collectively, I would like to give kudos to our community, our staff, and our kids,” he said. “Even though we know there are a wide variety of beliefs, including politically, on the issue of masking, the people of Sisters have been supportive and cooperative. Our school board has remained constantly focused on what is best for kids and doing all we can to keep the schools open in person, which we have been able to do much more successfully than many districts.”

Scholl says that mask-lifting will have an emotional effect for everyone.

“I see the change as a hope-builder,” he said. “I imagine that everyone will feel a bit of a lift in spirits to move toward normalcy.”

While masks will not be required in schools or school buses under the change, students and staff are more than welcome to continue their use, according to Scholl. The Oregon Department of Education framework specifically states, “Schools will provide a safe and respectful environment for students and staff who choose to continue to wear a mask.

“We will be diligent about there being no tolerance for ‘mask-shaming,’” he said. “Students should feel confident that their decision to continue to wear a mask will be free of judgment or hassle.”

Citizens should be aware that masks will still be required in health care settings and on public transportation, such as buses, trains, and in airports and on airplanes.

 

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