Gov. Brown will require masks in Oregon K-12 schools for 2021-22

Salem-Keizer students and educators returning to classrooms in the fall will have to wear a mask indoors, Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday.

The governor directed the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education to create a rule requiring masks inside K-12 schools for the 2021-22 school year, citing the wider spread of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus.

“The science and data are clear: the Delta variant is in our communities, and it is more contagious,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “My priority is to ensure our kids are able to safely return to full-time in-person learning this fall, five days per week and with minimal disruptions. With many children still ineligible to be vaccinated, masks are an effective way to help keep our kids safe in the classroom, the learning environment we know serves them best.”

Brown’s decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended all students, staff and visitors at K-12 schools wear masks, even if vaccinated against Covid.

Salem-Keizer School District administrators had not yet made a decision about mask-wearing in the fall prior to Brown’s announcement. Other health protocols, such as requiring physical distancing, remain up to individual districts as school resumes in the fall.