Newberg Public Schools weighs risks of lifting mask mandate earlier than state allows

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 11:38 AM PST
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NEWBERG, Ore. (KPTV) - Newberg Public Schools discussed the possibility of lifting its indoor mask mandate earlier than the state allows during a school board meeting Tuesday.

The district said the decision may lead to a temporary loss of access to federal stimulus funds, and the district could also be fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Those fines could reach over $120,000, with the district being fined anywhere from $250 to over $12,000 per day.

At a district board meeting Tuesday night, Newberg’s interim superintendent listed the consequences the district could face should it defy the state’s mandate.

Board members also weighed in, expressing their desire to get rid of masks, but at this point they say defying the state’s mandate is not worth the risk.

“You know, for me, it’s like, I don’t want the mask. I’d like to seem them gone. But at the same time, you know, from Dr. [Dave] Novotney on down, I think we have too many things to risk losing right now,” said board chair Dave Brown.

“If the March 31 date comes and goes and gets pulled away from us again, I think we should seriously consider defying the state, but for now I’m okay with waiting until the end of March,” said vice chair Brian Shannon.

If Newberg Public Schools does decide to get rid of masks before the end of March, it would join a few other schools in that decision.

Redmond School District is ending its indoor mask mandate March 2, while the Molalla School District said it will end theirs a day later, on March 3. Masks are already not required in classrooms in the Alsea School District.