Additional Tools for School Districts Related to K-12 Face Covering OAR Lifting March 31

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To: Superintendents, Private School Leaders, Charter School Leaders, School Nurses, Reopening Advisors
From: Kati Moseley, Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Manager
Date: February 15, 2022
RE: Additional Tools for School Districts Related to K-12 Face Covering OAR Lifting March 31

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, OHA announced that the agency will lift the statewide face covering requirements for schools under OAR 333-019-1015 on March 31st. OHA determined March 31st for several reasons, including:

  • By the end of March, hospitalizations are projected to fall below pre-Omicron levels (fewer than 400 COVID-19 hospitalizations). Maintaining access to healthcare is critical, OHA believes it will be safe to make masking decisions local when hospitalization return to pre-Omicron levels. Currently every county in Oregon is still experiencing high community spread due to the Omicron variant and unmasking now would lead to further spread of COVID-19 in school settings. This short article explains why Oregon’s state epidemiologist thinks you should keep masking — at least until the end of March.
  • This date gives schools time to prepare for the transition from an operational standpoint. Most districts will engage with district leadership, local public health authorities, families, employees, and employee groups.
  • This date gives families time to get their children vaccinated. Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and reduces spread of the disease. Vaccination prevents quarantine and ensures access to in-person learning.

As the decision to implement universal masking becomes a local decision, your leadership will be critical. Across the state, districts have spent the past six months implementing and refining layered mitigation strategies in schools to successfully maintain in-person learning while protecting community health and safety. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to students in Oregon.

ODE and OHA have developed the following materials to support local district, charter school and private school decision-making related to face covering policies beginning on March 31. These materials are provisional, and are aligned with CDC’s and OHA's current health and safety recommendations for school settings. OHA and ODE are currently engaging with K-12 partners to better address the practicality of implementing layered mitigation strategies in an environment that does not have universal face covering in place and these documents along with guidance may be updated in the coming days.

In-person learning for each and every student, all-day, every school day remains our shared goal. And, we cannot lose sight of students and families who are particularly vulnerable to both loss of instruction, and the impacts of COVID-19. 

We will continue to be in regular communication to clarify the path forward, allowing you to prepare and lead your community through this transition.

If you have any questions about this update, please contact the ODE COVID-19 inbox at Thank you!