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February 8, 2022

Oregon will lift indoor mask requirements no later than March 31, 2022

(La Grande) - Today, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced future changes to statewide indoor face covering rules (OAR 333-019-1025 and 333-019-1015). By the end of March, hospitalizations are projected to fall below pre-Omicron levels (fewer than 400 COVID-19 hospitalizations).  If the predicted pathway continues, then no later than March 31st, 2022 OHA will lift the mask requirements from the statewide indoor mask rule (OAR 333-019-1025). If hospitalizations fall to safer levels more quickly, before March 31st, state health officials will consider lifting the statewide mask rule sooner for indoor public spaces.

What This Means For Schools

* OHA will lift the mask rule (OAR 333-019-1015) in schools on March 31, 2022.  This date is established to provide certainty and planning time for schools. The March 31 date to lift the school mask rule occurs after the majority of schools complete spring break.

* As of March 31, the decision to require universal masking in school settings will rest with decision makers in school districts, charter schools, private schools, and local public health authorities. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OHA and ODE continue to strongly advise the use of face coverings in schools in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the impact of quarantine through the school year.

* Schools may continue to require students, staff, volunteers, and/or visitors to wear face coverings during indoor or outdoor activities, similar to other COVID-19 mitigation protocols such as physical distancing, and airflow/ventilation. Similarly, schools may be required by local ordinance to continue requiring staff and students to wear face coverings.

* Masks are required on public transportation, which includes school buses until lifted by the federal government and cannot be waived by state or local authorities.

* In the Absence of Universal Masking: Schools will return to using the general exposure definition: Having been within 6 feet of a confirmed or presumptive COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more within one day, or having been in contact with the infectious secretions of a confirmed or presumptive COVID-19 case.

* In the absence of universal masking, schools will not be able to use the Test to Stay Protocol to allow students and staff to attend school during a quarantine period.

* More news to come as we move forward towards collaborating and getting feedback with this future local decision.  

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