SALEM, OR (KPTV) - Governor Kate Brown announced Thursday that all K-12 schools statewide will be required to implement an indoor mask rule before the fall term.
The governor's office said Brown has directed the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education to create a rule requiring masks indoors for the 2021-22 school year, in line with the most recent recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Earlier this week, the CDC updated its masking recommendations as it grows more concerned over the Delta variant. The CDC also urged vaccinated people in areas of the country with high case counts to resume wearing masks indoors in public areas.
"The science and data are clear: the Delta variant is in our communities, and it is more contagious. My priority is to ensure our kids are able to safely return to full-time in-person learning this fall, five days per week and with minimal disruptions. With many children still ineligible to be vaccinated, masks are an effective way to help keep our kids safe in the classroom, the learning environment we know serves them best," Brown said in a statement. "In the meantime, as we ask Oregonians statewide to mask up in public indoor spaces, we will continue working hard to vaccinate more people so we can finally beat this virus once and for all. Vaccines remain the most effective and best way to protect ourselves and our families."
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are up throughout Oregon. Dr. Bukhosi Dube, Senior Health Advisor with the Oregon Health Authority, said hospitals in the state are beginning to fill up because of the surge, and cases are up 53 percent this week compared to last week. He told FOX 12 that 99.5 percent of the people who are hospitalized currently are people who are not vaccinated and the vast majority is because of the Delta variant.
Public schools in Washington state will also have indoor masking requirements for the fall, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday.