Oregon’s largest school district will move to a mask-optional policy beginning March 14.

Portland Public Schools’ announcement follows school districts around the state in moving to a mask optional policy as the state’s indoor mask mandate ends March 12.

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In a press release announcing the change, district chief of staff Jonathan Garcia cited conversations with local public health officials as well as Multnomah County’s COVID-19 community level, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies as “low.”

Portland Public Schools district headquarters, Portland, Ore., Dec. 15, 2018.

Portland Public Schools district headquarters, Portland, Ore., Dec. 15, 2018.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

Earlier this week, school districts leaders received updated “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” guidance from the Oregon Department of Education, which laid out specific rule changes for schools coinciding with the lifting of the state’s indoor mask requirements. School districts around the state have announced a move to optional masking after the state mask mandate ends next Saturday.

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Oregon’s other largest school districts, Salem-Keizer and Beaverton, have not yet announced plans to make masks optional. But other large Oregon districts, from Hillsboro and Bend-LaPine to Eugene and Tigard-Tualatin, have all indicated masks will be optional in their districts.

Like other districts, PPS will maintain a five-day isolation policy as contact tracing and quarantines end.

“We understand that comfort levels on mask wearing will vary in our community,” Garcia said in the press release.

“We plan on sharing resources to schools and families that help create a safe and welcoming environment for every student and staff member and one that honors individual decisions around COVID–19 safety, including the use of masks.”




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