SALEM, OR (KPTV) - Governor Kate Brown is calling on Oregon superintendents, school board members and education leaders to not "jeopardize" the return to fill-time, in-person learning this fall by violating the state's indoor mask requirements.

Most school districts in the state are moving forward with health and safety plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, the governor's office said Brown issued an open letter Tuesday in response to "troubling statements and actions from local school leaders indicating they would ignore state law." Some school boards have passed or are considering resolutions against Oregon's K-12 indoor mask requirements that were announced last month, according to the governor's office.

In her letter, Brown states one district leader sent a letter to parents urging them to make false claims on behalf of their children under the Americans with Disabilities Act to avoid mask requirements. The governor is calling on school districts to reject taking actions that defy state and federal laws, and to take action to protect students’ health and safety instead.

“Because that’s the thing about masks: they don’t just protect you, they protect everyone around you. Wearing a mask is an act of kindness. By wearing masks, we are teaching our children that they can protect each other in the classroom. That we can all work together to keep each other safe. When I visited classrooms this spring, I saw children who were overjoyed to be with their friends and teachers again. For them, safety protocols were not a burden but a benefit, giving them a reprieve from virtual classrooms and isolation from their peers," Brown said in the open letter.

Gov Kate Brown

Gov. Kate Brown touring a Portland school (KPTV)

Brown continued: “I have heard much about personal freedom when it comes to masks in school board meetings and on social media. I have not heard as much said about personal responsibility. As leaders, we have a great responsibility to our students and their futures. One of the sacred, fundamental responsibilities of a school district and its leaders is to keep the children in their care safe. It is up to us to make clear-eyed decisions based on science and fact. Flouting mask requirements will put everything we have worked towards in the last year at risk. Without the universal wearing of masks in our schools, the Delta variant will spread.”

Cases and hospitalizations from the virus have increased dramatically in the state over the past few weeks. On Monday, the Oregon Health Authority reported their were 752 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state, with 206 of those patients in intensive care unit beds.

The governor's office said the current indoor mask requirement can be enforced by Oregon OSHA under state law.

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