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Redmond School Board huddles with lawyer, won’t challenge mask/vaccine mandates

(Update: Adding video, comments; three school bus routes being 'paused' due to driver shortage)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With just days to go before the state's Monday deadline for all school staff and visitors to be fully vaccinated (or gain exemptions), the Redmond School Board met privately and publicly with newly hired outside legal counsel Wednesday night, then decided not to file a court challenge to COVID-19 mandates.

The special meeting, including an executive session, came a week after the board on a 4-1 vote hired Dan Thenell of the Portland-based Thenell Law Group to look at possible legal actions after adoption a resolution to call for regaining local control when it comes to state mask and vaccination mandates.

Back in August, the school board passed a resolution on a 3-2 vote that “demands” the state return control of pandemic safety measures, such as mask and vaccine requirements, to local school districts, also threatening possible legal action, and rejected adding back an explicit promise to follow the mandates in the meantime. (Though Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline said the district would do just that, as it has.)

The resolution’s long list of “whereas” clauses noted that the state directed schools to return to full-time, in-person classes this fall, and required everyone to wear masks indoors for most activities at school.

Board Chair Shawn Hartfield said Wednesday evening she also plans to send a letter to the Oregon Health Authority requesting updated COVID metrics and data for a 30-day review on when local control might return.

"We're kind of in a stuck place," Hartfield said. "I do wonder if we as a board could send OHA a letter requesting when are we going to have these 30 day reviews they promised."

Hartfield says she wants better communication when it comes to the possibility of getting back local control.

"When are we going to get metrics back so that we can understand when local control will be given back to school districts?" Hartfield said.

Fellow board members unanimously supported her in that move.

Other board members like Liz Goodrich acknowledged the efforts of the district to persevere through such a challenging time.

"I want to acknowledge what a difficult position our staff out in the buildings and our staff at the district office has been put in because of this chaos that we've been living through," Goodrich said.

Goodrich says with far fewer staff members without vaccinations or exceptions -- Superintendent Charan Cline told the board the number is likely to be down to the single digits by Monday -- she's hopeful they can get back to what's important and focus on educating the youth across the district.

"I hope that (with) tonight's decision to follow Dan's recommendation, which I think is a good one, that we can put some of this behind us and move forward to getting back to the work of educating our kids and supporting our staff," Hartfield said.

Board member Michael Summers also says his hope for looking into legal action was to open doors of opportunity for staff members who were on the fence about mandates.

The board members added that they do not want to leave any employees stranded moving forward, and hope they can be as close as possible to full capacity.

According to the school district's Public Information Officer, Sheila Miller, Redmond schools will maintain the necessary protocols.

"Someone who receives an exception would be, by definition, not vaccinated," Miller said. "They will be required to wear a mask, just as all people are required to wear masks in our buildings."

Miller says despite the religious or medical exceptions, the district will not be making accommodations for staff members or visitors.

"We are not making accommodations for people," Miller said. "All of our employees must either be vaccinated or be granted an exception (medical or religious)."

Despite a better staff picture, Cline told families in an update Wednesday that they are "struggling to locate substitute teachers" and that the mandate deadline may result in "some interruptions in our service to students." He said details would be coming soon for contingency plans, if changes are needed.

One of those impacts will be felt next Tuesday, when a bus driver shortage is prompting Redmond schools to "pause" three school bus routes "for the foreseeable future." Parents will be reimbursed $10 a day to help with the cost of alternate transportation.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

Comments

45 Comments

  1. POWER: possession of control, authority, or influence over others.
    Control: to direct the behavior of (a person or animal)
    Control: to cause (a person or animal) to do what you want

    You can’t say it’s not about either or both. The Dems will never let go of either of these as long as the clowns are in office. Since the circus has been shut down I can’t help to wonder if politics is where the circus acts went.

    1. Too funny karen!!! “There was zero threat, zero” DJT. “They were hugging and kissing the police” DJT. ” The free press is the greatest enemy of the American people ” DJT. Trump kooks will believe and do anything they’re told to. It’s what they call “freedom”

    2. Health mandates such as these are legal, and should be for reasons that should be obvious to you. If you can’t figure out the reasons, that’s on you.

    3. Yeah!

      No one gonna make me wear pants to the Walmart, my body, my freedom right?!

      Also, I am sick of driving on roads, I just wanna point my car and go, it’s a free country!

      God, you MAGAchuds are dumb…

  2. I’m glad to see the Board made the correct decision and if, after 30 days, the State hasn’t reviewed the issue as they’re supposed to, the Board should push the State hard.

  3. Remove them all and find some Oregonians who understand that the US Constitution over-rides any Ex. Order weak mandate these Dictating Governors try to force on the American people… At this stage- there is no crisis- it passed when the CV19 virus death rates went below (.25)- no different than the seasonal flu- and America doesn’t cave in for no flu bug ! Brown has no scientific reason to maintain her Emergency Powers- there is no emergency- hasn’t been one since a year now.

    1. We’re still doing the “it’s no worse than the flu” thing, eh? The human mind is fascinating. You have created an entirely separate reality where you have taken a position in which no actual evidence would change that position. That is not how the scientific method works at all.

  4. It should once again be noted- not a single healthy child in Oregon has died solely or even remotely with anything to do with this “mild” virus… what science is being used to justify masks and vaccines here ? There is none- just chicken-little-the sky is falling fear.

    1. An infant boy under the age of one in southwest Oregon has died from COVID-19 complications, officials said. He is the third child to die in Oregon due to the coronavirus, according to the Oregon Health Authority. OPB 9/8/21

  5. An absurd, ridiculous and embarrassing waste of OUR tax money. Shame on the school board for even considering this action. I suggest that they not run for re election.

    1. In reality, many of those that got exceptions are just buying time to get out of Oregon. You will see a shortage of people in many professions. And those people leaving won’t contribute taxes to the bloated school system’s budget that they can’t figure out how to spend correctly.

  6. Good for the School Board, keeping all safe. Why is this political? Oregon is doing so much better than other states. Just calm down, get your shot, wear your mask and now wash your hands. Covid is here to stay.

    1. I dont understand why people are upset or making this political. I read that religious and medical exemptions are allowed, if you dont want the vaccine, get an exemption and we all move on. Nobody has to know whether you are vaccinated or have an exemption to work. I agree, covid is here to stay and we all need to get along about it.

      1. Don’t know if you’ve ever had kids in school, but there is this thing they need before registration attending classes and it’s called a certified and accurate VACCINATION card/report. If the child is not vaccinated w ALL the listed vaccines, they can’t attend until they are. Been that way for over 40 years. Just sayn.

        1. Oh you mean those vaccines that have decades of data showing that they don’t have long term side effects???

          Based on your logic, if you’ve smoked cigarettes for 18 months without health problems it must be safe. Just because millions have been vaccinated does not mean that it is safe in the long run.

          But feel free to be the government’s guinea pig of you’d like.

  7. Go to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas etc and you will realize the true disease was liberalism all along.

    1. Just got back from Utah. Had a meeting the family of someone close to me (hunting buddy) who died of Covid. Your statement is confusing and makes the false impression that they’re doing well w COVID and that’s not true.

  8. Be prepared for schools to close because not enough teachers due to communist mandates. Then all you libs can cry you can’t stay home from work, if you have a job, to teach your kids. Morons

    1. They won’t close because in reality anti-vaxxers are just an annoyingly whiny minority, but feel free not to send your kids to those socialist government funded schools.

    2. Try reading this article and so many others like it. All those dire predictions about massive teacher resignations were nothing but fearmongering by the Trumplican Authoritarian Party. The vast majority of teachers, doctors and nurses have chosen their livelihood over pointless objections to a vaxx that has been given billions of times with very rare adverse effects. But you continue to swallow and promote the Trumplican lies hook, line and sinker and your rotting brain cells are causing illusions of grandeur about “owning the libs.” What a joke!

  9. There has been a thousand cases Sars-cov2 in Oregon schools since September 9th.
    (From the weekly outbreak report)
    We are just now counting the kids infected by Exposure from the first day of school.
    If only there were something we could do to protect the little dudes.

    I wrap my grandkids in Saran-wrap before dropping them off for the day.

  10. It’s an EXEMPTION, not an “exception”. To deny an EXEMPTION would be to break the law, per the Federal judge in New York just this week per CNN news source which was carried by KTVZ: https://ktvz.com/news/2021/10/12/federal-judge-allows-health-care-workers-in-new-york-to-apply-for-religious-exemptions-to-covid-19-vaccine-mandate/

    Sheila Miller says “despite the religious or medical exceptions, the district will not be making accommodations for staff members or visitors.” Well, if an EXEMPTION is filed with the district will you then allow that? You state you already have, but this statement makes one wonder. You will, or you won’t? I for one and angry that people had to make decisions to either Abandon their careers that they are likely still paying college tuition for, or stand on their religious and moral convictions and face not being able to pay their bills.
    What is VERY interesting to note All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.
    ​Marbury vs. Madison, 5, U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803).Chief Justice John Marshall

    An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed.
    ​Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 (1886)

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