What to expect for the school year – as of right now

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Rep. Mark Owens


Recently, Governor Brown, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced a statewide, school-wide mask mandate for all K-12 schools in Oregon.

Over the course of the last two weeks, Senator Findley and I have made learning more about this mandate an immediate priority, and we’ve met with dozens of school administrators, superintendents, local public health officials, and officials from all three state agency departments to learn more about the mandate. I personally have talked with over 20 school board members.

In the course of these meetings, it became clear that much of the information about the mandate and importantly, the repercussions for not abiding by the mandate, had not been discussed with local schools leaders or local public health officials.

After speaking with local school leaders, parents, teachers and even hearing from some students, Senator Findley and I wrote a letter to Governor Brown, Colt Gilt (ODE) and Patrick Allen (OHA) requesting more scientific data, more information and that they share this information with the public, not just behind closed doors and off-camera.

They listened and responded – to part of it (see more below).

As a school board member, a parent of two kids, the husband of a public school teacher, and a member of the House Education Committee, I’m acutely aware of how important it is to make sure our kids don’t lose another year of in-person instruction for families who choose that educational path for their kids. I also strongly believe these major decisions must be made in conjunction and collaboration with local education and health leaders who know their communities and have been navigating this virus for over a year, and this has not occurred. We need to allow these decisions to be made locally with school districts working with our local public health departments. This is the direction we were told was going to happen and we will keep actively working on this until we get local control back

We wrote our letter to encourage statewide agencies to involve local leaders and Oregonians in this important decision and process because I believe we all want the same thing—happy, healthy, educated kids learning and thriving in a safe, healthy community.

Be safe,
Mark Owens
State Representative, House District 60

ODE and OHA to hold public events regarding mask mandates

With the school year starting just around the corner, the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority are hosting a Facebook Live town hall event on Monday, August 16, 2021 from 6-7pm PDT for eastern Oregon residents to attend.

Participants will be invited to share questions during the event and can also submit questions ahead of time by using this Google form: https://forms.gle/qVShjXGupwrHnvix9

Face Covering Requirements for K-12 Schools: Live Q&A for Eastern Oregon Residents

There are two additional events scheduled next week in the days immediately following:

Tuesday, August 17th
6pm (English speaking)

Wednesday, August 18th
6pm (Spanish speaking)

It’s important that your voice is heard. I encourage you to attend, participate, ask questions in advance and during the event, and share comments with the agency leaders about this policy for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

The Oregon Department of Education shared the resources below regarding the rule and enforcement:

In addition, the Governor has re-instituted a statewide mask mandate for all indoor public places beginning today, Friday, August 13. Read more about the mask mandate here.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine or where to get one if you so choose, OHA has a website available here.

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1460
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-475, Salem, OR 97301
Email: Rep.MarkOwens@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/owens