Dear KCSD community,

The Oregon Health Authority announced today the state will lift mask requirements in schools on March 19, nearly two weeks earlier than expected. At that time, the decision to require masks in school settings will fall to school districts and local public health authorities.

Once the mandate ends on March 19, Klamath County School District plans to make masks optional in our schools. Those who wish to continue wearing a mask are welcome to do so.

According to OHA, current modeling from Oregon Health and Sciences University indicates that hospitalizations will fall below 400 or fewer Oregonians per day by March 19, a level the state experienced before the arrival of the omicron variant in Oregon.

Oregon Department of Education and OHA leaders say the decision to lift the school mask mandate earlier than March 31 comes after talking with local school and public health officials around the state. The requirement also is being lifted for indoor public spaces.

“These officials expressed a strong need to keep alignment between the dates for lifting the statewide face covering expectations in the K-12 settings with the lifting of the general indoor public spaces masking requirement,” ODE said in a statement. “In addition, school and district leaders confirmed they can thoughtfully prepare for this transition by March 19 and take necessary actions to ensure students can safely remain in classrooms.”

KCSD and its Board of Directors have been lobbying the state for local control since August, and we look forward to working in partnership with our local public health department to make decisions that are best for our schools, students, and staff. We will continue to update our community as new information is provided.