‘Wearing a mask is an act of kindness’: Gov. Brown appeals to Oregon schools

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Gov. Kate Brown released an open letter to Oregon superintendents, school board members, and education leaders Tuesday, asking them to follow guidelines and keep kids in school this fall.

The letter was written in response to school leaders throughout the state who have indicated they will not follow mask requirements.

“Throughout this pandemic, my north star for decisions about our schools has been to do what is best for our students,” Brown said. “We know that students’ mental, physical, behavioral, social, and emotional health is best served when they can be in schools for full-time, in-person instruction.

“The delta variant puts this goal at risk. It puts our children’s health and lives at risk. But, by again taking simple and effective precautions, we can still return our children to classrooms full-time this fall.”

This comes two weeks after the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) announced a masking requirement for when students return to school in the fall.

Several school boards have passed or are considering resolutions opposing the mask mandates, including the Redmond School District.

According to Brown’s office, one school district’s superintendent encouraged parents to falsely request mask exemptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Brown spoke against such actions in her letter, and called on schools to consider others when making their choices.

“Because that’s the thing about masks: they don’t just protect you, they protect everyone around you,” she said. “Wearing a mask is an act of kindness. By wearing masks, we are teaching our children that they can protect each other in the classroom. That we can all work together to keep each other safe.

“When I visited classrooms this spring, I saw children who were overjoyed to be with their friends and teachers again. For them, safety protocols were not a burden but a benefit, giving them a reprieve from virtual classrooms and isolation from their peers.”

The indoor mask requirement across the state can be enforced by Oregon OSHA under state law, including in schools.

Brown’s full letter can be read below.

08.16.21_Governor Brown Letter to Educators
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