Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is holding a virtual public meeting on Monday, Jan. 24 at 9 a.m. to receive public comment about potentially making the school face covering and vaccine requirements permanent. Comments can be made by email and are due by 5 p.m. on Jan. 24.

During COVID, OHA instituted a temporary rule requiring face coverings be worn by everyone in school and eventually requiring those working around children and in school either get a vaccine, a medical or religious exemption or risk losing their jobs. The Department said at the time of the temporary rule that it would look into going through the normal rulemaking process to make the rule permanent.

OHA argues that the rule is necessary in an effort to control the spread of COVID, especially amongst populations that have compromised immune systems, and to protect teachers, staff and volunteers from COVID.

As with the proposed rule for indoor spaces, the proposed rule for schools can be rescinded by the State Public Health Director or State Public Health Officer.

Similar to the indoor mask rule, people will need to wear a face covering if they are inside the school unless they are at a private individual workspace that is enclosed on all sides and only used by one person at a time.

Face shields can be used in place of masks if there is a medical reason that an individual is unable to wear a face mask. Face shields may be used in kindergarten and lower grades to help facilitate student learning.

Schools that violate the proposed rule could face a civil penalty up to $500 per day per violation.

To register for the event or to submit public comment send an email to publichealth.rules@dhsoha.state.or.us.

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