Salem-Keizer won’t require masks after March 12, superintendent says

Starting March 12, students and employees in Salem-Keizer schools won’t be required to wear masks. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Superintendent Christy Perry said the Salem-Keizer School District won’t require students or employees to wear masks once a statewide mandate lifts on March 12.

Perry made the announcement Friday in emails to district employees and families of students.

“We know some students and adults will choose to wear face coverings and others will not. It is critical we support these decisions as we work together to build a community that supports each other in the decisions that protect their health or the health of those close to them,” Perry’s email to families said.

The change applies to school buses, school buildings and other district facilities during school, athletics and other before and after-school programs.

Perry told Salem Reporter she and other district leaders consulted local health care providers, who supported the decision, and reviewed guidelines from state and federal health authorities.

“They really believe that we’re at the highest levels of immunity at this point and that that immunity … will stand for 90 days,” Perry told Salem Reporter.

Health care providers also told district leaders that if Covid cases surge again, they could reassess requiring masks, Perry said.

Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday that Oregon would lift its indoor mask mandate March 12 due to rapidly declining case counts and hospitalizations.

Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education leaders addressed the decision in a Wednesday news conference where they announced other changes, including an end to required quarantines for people exposed to Covid who don’t develop symptoms or test positive for the virus.

State leaders said they wanted to return decisions to local authorities, including school districts and county health departments.

The policy changes one week before the district’s spring break is scheduled to begin.

Willamette University also announced this week it would lift its campus indoor mask mandate March 12, except in the campus health center.

-Rachel Alexander