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PPS will transition to optional masking for students, staff on March 14

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 12:06 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Portland Public Schools announced Friday that masking will be optional for all students and staff starting on March 14.

Earlier this week, the Oregon Health Authority announced that the rule requiring masks in indoor public places and schools would be lifted after 11:59 p.m. on March 11. Following that announcement, the Oregon Department of Education said it would be up to school districts on whether to keep masking guidelines or lift them.

PPS said the transition to optional masking is aligned with the new COVID-19 public health guidance released by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), OHA, ODE and Multnomah County Public Health.

“From the beginning of this global pandemic, we’ve been guided by advice from public health experts, made adjustments based on new data and updated science, and applied what we’ve learned to guide our response to COVID-19,” said Jonathan Garcia, chief of staff at PPS.

In addition to moving to optional masking, the district said it will continue the pause of contact tracing and quarantine in schools.

The district said it will continue to:

  • Provide the OHSU weekly screening testing program and school-based rapid testing for individuals who might become symptomatic while at school.
  • Use MERV 13 HVAC filters and will begin replacing filters in each portable air purifier this month.
  • Inform families and staff if an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 was on-site during their contagious period.

Students and staff will also be required to stay home when sick with COVID-19 symptoms for five days. The district said individuals will be able to return on day six if fever free for at least 24 hours and they will be encouraged to wear a mask for five days.

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