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Parents push back against state mandate for masks in school; some unenroll their children

Parents upset that students have to wear masks this fall

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Some parents in Central Oregon and elsewhere are threatening to, or actually pulling their children out of public schools until masks are not required.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Education say the recent decision by Gov. Kate Brown follows federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to curb the rapid rise of the more-contagious delta variant of COVID-19.

A Bend mom says her 6-year-old son got COVID, but had problems recovering because he had to wear a mask at school. She says the combination of having to wear a mask and the other COVID protocols played a factor in her not wanting to send him back to school.

“The structure of everything -- while I understand it's meant to keep some safe, I do feel like the mental anxiety that all the kids experience by having to do all these certain things in such a certain way, and they couldn’t just be kids," Justinna Rossett told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. "(It) wasn’t enough for me to send him back to school."

Other parents are also considering not sending their children back to class this fall.

Some are even planning on participating in a statewide "unenrollment day" on Thursday, as a way to protest the new mask requirement.

Shelly Baker, chair of the Moms for Liberty chapter in Deschutes County, says she already has unenrolled her two children. And she said it was an easy decision -- even before Governor Brown's new mandate.

"It's not only taking the power of that decision of whether or not a child should be masked out of the parents' hands, it’s taking it out of the people's hands, out of the community's hands, out of the superintendent's hands." Baker said.

"So if they were going to listen to us, it seems like now they either have cover -- by the state government -- or they aren't able to now if they had changed their mind."

State officials said the new statewide rule requiring face coverings in all indoor school settings, public and private, for anyone 2 years and older took effect on Monday. That means it applies to summer school and other summer programming.

Here is a link to the Oregon Department of Education's Ready Schools, Safe Learners "resiliency framework" for the coming school year, updated Tuesday.

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

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