It’s an issue that just won’t go away.
With the mask mandate back in place for Oregon schools, parents are once again faced with a choice.
“I never thought I’d be going through something like this, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way,” said Kylee Simpson, a Mom who lives in La Pine.
She believes it should be a personal choice, and decided to leave it up to her six-year-old daughter.
“She’s torn, she doesn’t know what she wants to do,” Simpson said. “She doesn’t want to wear a mask for six hours a day, but she wants to be with her friends. So that’s the biggest struggle. And as a parent, I don’t know what the right decision is.”
Parents around the state protested the guidelines Thursday, banding together to dis-enroll their children.
Bend-La Pine Schools isn’t seeing the results of the movement just yet.
Assistant Director of Communications Alandra Johnson says they’ve received just one transfer request recently from a family who said “their decision was based on masking rules”.
For private schools, it’s a different story.
“We’ve definitely had folks call the school and ask if we’ll have more flexibility in terms of masking,” said Cascades Academy Head of School Julie Amberg.
Some parents hope private education is the loophole in the system.
Turns out…it doesn’t make much difference.
“To our understanding of the guidelines, the governor’s order that came out just last week and has now been promoted by OHA and ODE, all schools are required to comply with the mask mandate,” Amberg said.
With Crook County, Jefferson County and Culver schools planning to fight the mandate, some are wondering why others aren’t doing the same.
“I just kind of wish that people would stand up for our kids and fight this because I don’t see an end in sight if we don’t fight it,” Simpson said.
The priority for Cascades Academy is keeping students in the classroom for the entire year, even if that means following mask mandates.
“I empathize with the fact that we wish we weren’t wearing masks right now,” Amberg added. “I personally wish I wasn’t wearing a mask, and I’m willing to sacrifice my personal opinion around that for what I feel to be the greater health and safety of our students and I really think we need to prioritize them being in person at all cost.”
“I think if a mask mandate in the short term is going to increase that likelihood of happening, then I think we should go for it.”
Some parents are planning a protest for the first day of school, hoping to persuade schools to make a change.