The Medford School District has released a statement regarding the upcoming change in state mask usage:
You may have already heard, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is projecting hospitalizations to decrease to pre-Omicron levels by the end of March and thus planning to lift the statewide indoor mask requirement at that time. What does that mean for schools?
The Medford School District’s priority is to provide the best education possible for students while keeping students, staff, and the community safe. We continue to follow the science and projections from health experts, as well as all requirements from ODE.
- OHA’s projected COVID-19 rates and hospitalizations for the end of March look similar to rates from last summer, when cases were relatively low in Jackson County and we were able to make masks optional in our Medford School District Summer Experience. During that time, we saw only a few cases throughout the summer program, with cases contracted in the community.
- We also know that teaching and learning is more effective when universal masking is not in place.
- For these reasons, we are leaning towards shifting our guidance to masks being optional as soon as the requirements are lifted for school, likely March 31. Masks are still mandatory indoors as of now, unless students have an approved accommodation.
We still need to have conversations with our local public health authority and other entities. We do know the preference of our staff and families through a survey conducted in July 2021: when cases are low, the majority of both groups prefer masks optional. We will communicate more details once we have made our final determination.
Of course, if we go this route, our multi-layered mitigation measures including quarantine and isolation will still be in place. We will still have methods in which we can test our symptomatic or exposed students and staff on campus. Students and staff can, of course, continue to mask if they wish.
The State of Oregon recently announced plans to lift mask mandates by March 31st.