Bend-La Pine Schools will announce mask requirements for the upcoming school year on August 10th.
The announcement will be made during the next school board meeting.
“There’s not a pandemic playbook,” Superintendent Steven Cook said. “Knowing that when we make whatever final recommendations that I and my team will be making to the board, there will be people that completely disagree with whatever those points are.”
The district is seeking guidance from state and local health officials.
Cook says he had a great initial conversation with Deschutes County Public Health last week, but masks are not the only COVID-related issues that need sorting out.
“We’ve got to figure out the path forward on things like quarantining,” Cook said. “What happens if our county transmission rates go up?”
While an official decision has not been made yet, masks are recommended for Bend-La Pine summer school students in grades 6-12 and required for grades K-5.
“It varies between masking everybody, masking only unvaccinated, and masking just our younger students who haven’t had the opportunity to be vaccinated yet,” Melissa Barnes Dholakia, school board member said. “So we are weighing that guidance from a variety of different health professionals.”
Cook would not say which way he or the school board is leaning based on the guidance they have been given so far.
Barnes Dholakia says she will agree with what health officials think is best.
“You’re going to have to stay tuned,” Cook said. “We’ll make that decision once we get more dialogue with our partners.”
The Redmond School District recently announced masks will not be required this fall, but Bend-La Pine officials say that will not factor into their decision.
Board members are looking towards other large districts, similar to Bend-La Pine, as an example.
The next school board meeting will be August 10th at 5:30 p.m. in the Bend High School auditorium.