Harrisburg Parents and Guardians,
I am excited to share with you some good news and that a return to normalcy is on the horizon. The Harrisburg school board has been clear and consistent that whenever the mandate is lifted, the mask requirement will end as well. Staff, students and families can expect to enjoy a normal classroom experience again without masks beginning Friday, April 1. Local control and decision-making are now back in the hands of local school districts.
The mask mandate decision was made because state health leaders expect Oregon’s COVID-19 hospitalizations to taper off in late March to about 400 or fewer, the level the state recorded before the omicron variant began to spread.
Following the mask mandate announcement, Oregon Department of Education (ODE) issued a bulletin noting that the March 31 deadline date was “established to provide certainty and planning time for schools” and added that it occurs after most schools have completed spring break. However, ODE stopped short of encouraging schools to shed masks at that time.
As of March 31, the decision to require universal masking in school settings will rest with decision makers in school districts and local public health authorities. Oregon Health Authority 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 end of the school year.
Should students or staff want to follow that recommendation, the school district will support those individuals after the mandate sunsets. We recognize that some staff and families may still be concerned about the virus and choose to continue wearing a mask after the mandate ends. We will provide N95 masks for those requesting them. HSD will respect personal choice and support those who decide that masks are in the best interest.