Updates to masking in health care settings in schools

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To: Superintendents, Principals, K-12 Public Information Officers, Private School Leaders, Charter School Leaders, School Nurses, Reopening Advisors, Special Education Directors
From: Kati Moseley, Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Manager
Date: March 14, 2022
RE: Updates to masking in health care settings in schools


Dear School and District Leaders,

Today’s shift to the optional wearing of face coverings presents an additional transition in an already challenging school year. Thank you for your time, energy, patience, and steady leadership throughout this school year, and into this spring. Your efforts are why students are in school learning with dedicated school teams.

As you know, on March 11 at 11:59 pm, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) lifted its indoor and K-12 masking rules returning Oregon back to local decision making for this COVID-19 protection measure. However, OAR 333-019-1011, which requires universal masking in health care settings, remains in place. To assist with common questions regarding this rule, OHA has provided an updated Health Care Setting Masking Requirements FAQ with additional information. 

School nurses, school staff, students, and visitors are required to mask in areas of a school which meet the definition of a health care setting licensed under ORS chapter 441 or 443 per OAR 333-019-1011(6)(d)[1]. In schools, these areas include school health rooms, isolation spaces, counseling offices where mental health counseling services are delivered, school-based health centers, and other areas where healthcare is routinely delivered. In areas that do not meet the definition of a health care setting, masks are not required under current rules. Counseling offices where academic counseling is offered are not considered healthcare settings.

It is important to keep in mind that local government, districts, or school administrators may adopt additional masking requirements beyond what this rule requires. In addition, masking may be required pursuant to OROSHA’s rule on exceptional risk (OAR 437-001-0744) for those situations covered by the rule. While specific situations may vary, areas that generally do not meet the definition of a health care setting include classrooms, school buses, and playgrounds. Thoughtful and collaborative leadership is needed to communicate what is required in school spaces.

We encourage all school administrators to collaborate with school health staff or your Education Service District to identify which areas meet the definition of a health care setting and to clearly communicate to staff, students, and families the expectations for mask wearing in these areas. Resources such as signs, fact sheets, and social cards regarding masking are available on the OHA website. The OHA/ODE communication toolkit for Centering Safety and Belonging as Schools Transition to Local Mask Policy is available here

Please contact ODECOVID19@ode.oregon.gov with any questions.

[1] OAR 333-019-1011(6)(d) “Health care setting” means any place where health care, including physical, dental, or behavioral health care is delivered and includes, but is not limited to any health care facility or agency licensed under ORS chapter 441 or 443, such as hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, birthing centers, special inpatient care facilities, long-term acute care facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, inpatient hospice facilities, nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and residential facilities, behavioral health residential facilities, home health care, hospice, pharmacies, in-home care, vehicles or temporary sites where health care is delivered or is related to the provision of health care (for example, mobile clinics, ambulances, non-emergency medical transport vehicles (NEMT), secure transportation, and street based medicine), outpatient facilities, such as dialysis centers, health care provider offices, dental offices, behavioral health care offices, urgent care centers, counseling offices, school-based health centers, offices that provide complementary and alternative medicine such as acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, and other specialty centers.