The Culver School District is taking a hard stance against a new mandate calling for masks to be worn in class this fall.
“I will not tolerate any mandate that risks the safety, learning or social development of our students,” Superintendent Stefanie Garber said in a letter to families and staff on Friday. “Our district will do whatever it takes to retain the stance of local decision making and have masks be optional, honoring each family’s wishes for their own student.”
Garber’s letter comes one day after Gov. Kate Brown directed Oregon’s health and education departments to draft new rules requiring masks indoors for all K-12 students and staff this fall.
She said the district, which has about 675 students, was “extremely disappointed” to learn about the new mandate.
In the letter to families, Garber said she and the school board met Thursday night and confirmed the following:
1. Children are medically, physically, and psychologically harmed by mask mandates.
2. Masks are a form of discrimination & inequality that is visual, day after day. The students in poverty have to use the school provided medical blue disposable masks, they do not have access to the custom store-bought ones. This visually shows their economic status to everyone.
3. No one at the State Level is talking about the psychological effects of masks and communication. We saw negative effects daily on our campus.
4. We never had an outbreak of any kind on campus from September to June. Cases that did happen were from exposures outside of school and our parents were excellent at being cautious, informing the school, and keeping their students home if there was even a hint of illness. We trust them to do so again.
5. We have an excellent partnership with the Jefferson County Health Department.
6. Every decision needs to be given to families and we trust that they determine what they feel is best for their child, both for masks and vaccines.
Dr. Sara Johnson, superintendent of the Crook County School District, issued a similar statement on Thursday.
A spokesman for Crook County schools said it was too early to say if the district would ignore the mandate when school resumes in September.