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After much debate, Redmond School Board votes 4-1 to make masks optional, starting March 2

'The fact that this position is seen as radical and lawless is insanity – it’s absolute insanity,' said Redmond School Board member Michael Summers
Redmond School District
'The fact that this position is seen as radical and lawless is insanity – it’s absolute insanity,' said Redmond School Board member Michael Summers

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) – After an impassioned debate, the Redmond School Board voted 4-1 Wednesday evening to direct Superintendent Charan Cline and district staff to draft a new COVID-19 policy by March 2 that makes masks optional, giving parents the authority to make that decision for their children.

That deadline is nearly a month before the March 31 date set by state health and education officials for lifting the mask mandate for Oregon schools, which means the district would be breaking from the state’s guidelines, if changes don’t come before then.

A similar move in the town of Alsea prompted a potential of state school funds, and that district’s superintendent was invited to give guidance to Redmond school board members during Wednesday's virtual special meeting.

A district announcement after the meeting said, “As a result of this resolution, Redmond School District administrators will work on a plan regarding this directive, and will communicate the details of that plan with families and staff.”

“In the meantime, masks will continue to be required in all of our schools and on our school buses, as will all other COVID mitigation measures, including social distancing and quarantining,” the statement concluded.

You can view the meeting video here (the executive session ended about an hour into the recording).

School board Chair Shawn Hartfield and colleague Michael Summers drafted the resolution, which was revised after a closed-door executive session to remove language referring to vaccinations or other COVID mitigation measures, focusing only on masks and face shields.

Summers said he believes Gov. Kate Brown failed to use proper process in not involving state lawmakers in the imposition of the mandates aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. And he said he'd take the heat from voters if need be, to take a stand against that action.

Summers said local school boards have been “circumnavigated,” and that as a result, “from here on out, any governor can do whatever they want, under the guise of an emergency, and go around the Legislature. That’s not how we function. Could we wait until March 31st? We could, but to me, that does not put government back in its lane.”

The lone no vote, board member Liz Goodrich, said the March 31 mandate end is so soon, it’s not worth the upheaval of trying to draft and change the rules in the final weeks.

The resolution’s initial deadline for staff was in just a week, but Cline pleaded for more time to take the necessary steps, including the required two weeks’ notice to the teachers’ union for changes in working conditions, or face a possible claim of an unfair labor practice.

But as for not acting now, Summers held his ground.

“I believe that the damages that have been done for two years to a lot of kids, my kids included -- that's unacceptable to me,” he said. “And whatever legal recourse or downsides or frustrations we cause within the district, the fines we could incur -- those are all better solutions to me than another suicide, hands down.

“Or one more day of subjecting our students -- and some of them are fine, I'm very thankful some of them are fine -- but one more day of subjecting a student to something that gives them ulcers because they are so full of anxiety, like my daughter – unacceptable. That's one day and two years too long for me. I'm unwilling to wait until the 31st to be given permission to make decisions for my daughters.”

“Well, you’re a compelling speaker, Michael, for sure,” Goodrich responded. “But I have concerns that this resolution – it’s rushed, poorly constructed, people who needed to be consulted,” such as Deschutes County public health officials.

Hartfield noted that numerous states around the country have set earlier dates to end school masking requirements and give local control back.

“The 31st is some arbitrary date that is later than every other state, and that’s not acceptable,” she said, accusing the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Education of “laying,” and making false promises, such as metrics.

“I don’t trust them anymore,” she said, noting the board has repeatedly pressed the state, but pulled back on a resolution last year to reopen schools. “We have waited, we have been patient,” she said. “Kids are being kicked out of schools. I never want to see that again. Our kids are very far behind because of the shutdowns. We don’t need seven weeks to prepare for this.”

Cline advised that while the state is crafting new guidelines, “creating a plan underneath the resolution creates a set of guidelines and a set of requirements that quite simply don’t exist under the existing plan, so I don’t know how to do that.”

Goodrich said health officials said the guidelines have saved lives. And that began a vocal exchange.

“We can sit here and argue all these numbers and come up with facts and science from both sides of the camp. At the end of the day is this good for our kids? And If you had kids in the school district right now, you’d be a lot more passionate about this.”

“I totally resent that,” Goodrich said, to which Hartman replied, “And that’s fine -- I resent the fact that you have consistently said to keep masking our kids. That bothers me.”

“Sorry not sorry,” Goodrich replied. “You know, I believe in the science of what experts tell us … Nobody here on this board is a health expert, and I choose to listen to the health experts.”

Summers said, “That’s the beauty of this policy, you have the right to do that … I respect the individual and the parent to direct that for their own children. … The fact that this position is seen as radical and lawless is insanity – it’s absolute insanity. And I refuse for it to be couched in this rebellious nature, when I am asking to be treated like an adult, and when I’m asking to be to be treated and have the right to actually direct the decisions of my child. … I‘m not trying to kill everybody. That’s the insane thing.”

Here's the revised, adopted resolution:

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Barney Lerten

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

Comments

68 Comments

  1. As a 30-year resident and taxpayer of Redmond, I am both most pleased and proud of the RSD School Board for their decision. The masks, regardless of what you are told, do very little to stop airborne viruses, and yet are so destructive in so many other ways. After Omicron, I would venture to say, most have likely had the Vid by now. After 2 long years, time to move on with our lives and begin to see people’s faces again. Simple, if you want to wear a mask, have at it. THANK YOU RSD SCHOOL BOARD!!!

    1. Exactly, finally! Mask don’t work. Like you said it’s most likely doing more harm than good to your body. Then you have the double standards of these mask mandates which was on full display this past Sunday! If you don’t know what I am talking about rewatch the superbowl, with all the celebrities and even the mayor of Los Angeles. Let’s just go back to normal

    2. The masks have been shown to stop droplets, but haven’t been shown to stop transmission. Even the Bangladesh study appearing to show that surgical masks have a modest effect of decreased transmission by 11% or so, may not be accurate either. After 2 years, we should have better studies showing what does and what does not work, but for some reason the CDC, NIH and NIAID have failed to produce useful research. They have only produced weak, poorly designed studies that many don’t understand. Give me a strong, well designed study and I will adjust my opinions.

    3. “Summers said he believes Gov. Kate Brown failed to use proper process in not involving state lawmakers in the imposition of the mandates aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.”
      Summers believes this despite numerous totally failed lawsuits against it. She should of stayed school!!!!
      “Summers said local school boards have been “circumnavigated,” and that as a result, “from here on out, any governor can do whatever they want, under the guise of an emergency, and go around the Legislature. That’s not how we function. Could we wait until March 31st? We could, but to me, that does not put government back in its lane” So this really isn’t about masks or student safety and health at all, it’s all about showing Govenor Brown who’s boss!!!! Politics before kids is the totally failed trump kook way!!!! Soooooo much losing for the trump Borg!!!!

      1. You clearly did not even listen to what summers had to say but only read cherry picked ktvz comments in the article before you commented. Quite hilarious actually. I would encourage you to listen to the meeting so you can be fully informed. It would make your opinion much more viable.

        1. What he said was he thought the government should have put the mask mandate to the voters instead of not giving the people a chance to vote on it. Then he pushed through a resolution but doing the same thing and not giving the people a chance to vote on it. Quite the hypocrite. When he was asked for proof for any of the lies in his resolution, he stated he didn’t have any, just was how he felt. He is setting up the people who believe in facts and science to be bullied by the believers of Lies and Conspiracy theories. Just like his followers who were outside Redmond High a couple weeks ago bullying, harassing and trying to intimidate the kids.

          1. Cool, troll. What is your relationship to furthering the pro-Russia and Alt Right agenda? Consciousness? Are you aware of your broad agenda in supporting your allies? Completely oblivious and pointing fingers at others or fully aware of your alliance? Education level? Baby Boomer or angry Gen Ex? Let me guess, you also refer to people as sheep while you say you believe in a sheephearder and act like a goat? Anyway, why don’t you make like a Billy goat and find a bridge, troll.

          2. Actually, nevermind. I just don’t want to care about this anymore. My kids are safe. My family is safe. We are all old enough for vaccines in our house and have avoided it. I want to care, but why? They don’t care enough about others to wait a couple weeks and demonstrate solidarity to foreign governments who wish to see our demise. Love wins, but this isn’t love. This is a power grab.

            1. I agree and it’s only our local freedom fighters crying like a bunch of babies over masks. And they make fun of us snowflakes…. typical hypocrisy for the conservative side.

    1. Hopefully you listened to it if you are commenting on it. Just to be clear if you listened to the meeting Summers never pressured anyone to vote the way he did. He stated his case, facts about the issue, and the others voted based on actual information.

      1. He didn’t state facts, he stated his opinion. When asked for facts to back up his position he said he had none, it was just the way he felt. No facts, just lies and conspiracies.

        1. It’ll be okay twobulzz. They didn’t ban masks, they just made them optional. You can still make your kids wear the face diaper if you want. You just can’t make other people’s kids wear one anymore. That’s no longer within your power.

  2. happy with this decison. Not because of the weirdos out front of redmond high school bribing kids with unhealthy Mcdonalds, but for my kids being able to breathe more comfortably

  3. Crazy that it has to take this amount of government push back to return medical decision making for a child to the parent. Allowing parents to make this decision is not crazy or dangerous, it is normal.

    1. As one of the more astute commenters on this site, you should be able to flip the debate 180 and see why some people don’t agree. The crazy thing is that it’s happening now.

      1. There’s ALWAYS two sides to an argument. Both sides don’t have to agree. One thing both sides can agree upon is that you can still have your child wear a mask. If you truly think it’s necessary. but it will no longer be within their power to mandate that for someone else’s child. PERIOD

      2. That’s the beauty of the resolution. It allows just that, choice. If one feels they need to be protected and they also feel that surgical and cloth masks work they can have their child wear one. The parent that believes surgical material does not stop aerosols or they do not believe their child is at any risk for serious complications can choose not to have them wear one.

  4. Thank you Redmond School Board! Goodbye Goodrich. I hope she is not planning on running for reelection (not sure if she can?). Goodrich believes the science. What science is that? The one that changes every 5 minutes. Hey Goodrich, that is called POLITICAL science.

    1. Any time a person puts “the” in front of “science” or “experts”, they are not referring to science but rather a selective gathering of information that supports a particular view.

  5. I mean restrictions were supposed to end on Feb 8th. But they keep getting extended. I am pleased that it can now be the persons choice vs having this forced on folks. Way to go Redmond School Board! Hope others will follow your example!

  6. Crazy how a piece of cloth just destroys these tough guys…it’s really about them wanting to force their ignorance on others….what kind of horrible people treat others like that? Bad parenting I’d say🤙💯

    1. It is not about forcing ignorance. It is about a personal decision. If you want to still mask you can. But those that are willing to accept the risk (for most it is minor) then they get that choice restored. You can still wear a mask (that was always allowed).

    2. The only “force” that is happening is from those not wanting to give choice. Making it optional is actually the opposite of force. You should a actually listen to the meeting so you can be fully informed.

    3. You are right, it is crazy how some so fear the very idea of not wearing one….to the point they want to force others to wear them so they won’t stand out.

      1. Nope. Missed the point. Wow. Anyways. This is why we, the majority, just let you go at eachother on a local TV newstation. How about the rest of us remain quiet and use our power at the polls, like last time. Lol. Ha!

      2. Personally, I don’t care if they glued their mask on. You just won’t see me wearing one. Because HALLILUIA! I have achieved natural immunity! Not that I ever wore one before.

  7. Thank you Redmond School Board for standing up for our Kids..
    Michael Summers is Rock Star.
    I will be financially supporting in a big way whoever runs against Liz Goodrich in 2023.

  8. The drama is off the hook. Wow. The immense suffering of wearing a mask. Lol. My kids have been completely fine wearing a mask, breathing, playing. No one in our house has caught Covid-19 to our knowledge. I raised them to love others, and so they do. If your child is having a hard time accepting that loving others sometimes requires small acts of kindness, I suggest you look inside. So ridiculous, given the masks are coming off shortly. Political stunts. Perhaps the kids are having mental health challenges because they are being inundated with bully parents who are disrespectful to school staff and are science deniers in the middle of a pandemic, climate change, and are being manipulated by other countries to create division in order to break democracy. Maybe you should wake up to who the real enemy is and watch how they’ve been manipulating European countries in the same way for similar purposes (Ukraine?!). You better get your acts together, for all our sake because the enemy is not fellow citizens. Disinformation is a key weapon in their warfare handbook. At least we can visually see who cares about others and follows science, as well as whose paying attention to the bigger picture. Jeesh.

    1. Disinformation is a key weapon in their warfare handbook – you are absolutely correct and you can readily see their success when you read comments like yours.

      1. Umkay, uneducated trolling is a waste of time. If you cannot understand basic knowledge about political grandstanding and the workings of the alt right within school boards across the country, the divisive trolling by Russia, and the end goal to create civil unrest while they move in on Europe, then you are ignorantly working for them. They use the alt rights agenda to further their own. Neither care because they ultimately seek to break democracy. Masks are simply low-hanging fruit. But I digress. More teachers leave. More nurses quit. Less education. Less access to healthcare. Crisis opportunities. Hello? Have you been paying attention at all? Two years?

  9. The Alt right in Redmond is bold. Better recognize what these people are actually standing for, even if they are not being transparent about it. So much bigger than masks. They are coming off in a few weeks anyway, you oh so brave school board members. Lol. Way to stand up to the governor by your obvious political stunts to appease the Peoples Rights movement, brought to you by none other than the Alt Right. This is so much bigger than a mask, folks. But we aren’t stupid, which is why most voters choose not to engage in conversation with you anymore. Unreasonable and too radicalized.

    1. If “Love wins,” why do you libel people who have given no indication they are prejudiced or racist, over the subject of mask wearing? Does attacking people with false accusations really support your belief you are accepting of all people? Makes we wonder about your prejudice against “white people”. Your supporting argument is pure imagination. Please explain how you can tell “what these people are actually standing for, even if they are not being transparent about it.” I have no idea what you are talking about.

      1. Because I understand political agendas and there interconnection. I read. I’m educated. It’s quite well known. How about you read something about Russia and how they divide countries and exploit political divides about masks, vaccines, and race? How are you not aware? Oh wait, you’re trolling. So who do you work for, Bundy or Putin or both. You can’t be seriously that unaware of the landscape that led to this division. If you are, time to Crack open a book and learn a bit about the fall of democracy. Troll on. I’ve got better things to do than educate someone who fails to research before trolling strangers for no reason but to take down democracy. Prove me wrong.

        1. So we should believe you because you say so? Why should should your ability to read make anyone trust you? The vast majority of Americans, even white, can read. I also can read and have education, why don’t you therefore believe everything I say?

          Read “something about Russia”? Say like Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago? It’s a very good book, some think, but I don’t have the time. I do recall that it is about the atrocities of communism and social repression, where people give up their individual rights to a central power and are imprisoned and tortured for things like speaking out against their “Dear Leaders”. Also, you have heard that the Russia collusion was a hoax fabricated by Clinton and her campaign? If not, you need to do some more reading.

          No, I am not trolling. I asked a straightforward question and I repeat: “why do you libel people who have given no indication they are prejudiced or racist, over the subject of mask wearing?” I should have said “libel people as alt right” who have given no indication of racism or ultranationalism when speaking about a completely non-racist subject as masks? The subject of masks has nothing to do with race in my world, but yours, apparently it does. You are the one projecting your own racism and I am pointing that fact out. If you don’t recall using “alt right” just check your own post. And the one below.

          Further, using the phrase “alt right” clearly indicates white supremacists and is why I said “I wonder” about your view of white people. I didn’t say you called them racists but are using a term frequently used to mean people are racists and ultranationalists. Throwing around such words and concepts flippantly by a self described educated person only dilutes the meaning and makes light of a serious subject. I think you should take seriously the accusations of racism and not play with them like toys.

          In regards to your response below, you are cognitively dissonant and don’t understand your own language when stating you never mentioned race, but you again, did clearly state “alt right”, which is what again? A derogatory term about a tiny group of white, racist, ultranationalists who blame their problems on non-whites. Being white is one of their main identifying characteristics or in your opinion, can they also be black? Just to state the obvious, just because a person has lighter skin tone than you do doesn’t make them alt right.

          And why continue to fragment the conversation off track by bringing up Bundy? That is quite the stretch. I do he agree, he’s a nut.

          You further stretch things beyond belief by alleging that the vote to end masking a few weeks early is some attempt by “religious extremists” to band together and organize against schools. They are trying to break democracy etc? I’ll stop there and summarize, that is a good example of catastrophizing.

          When in the world does it make sense to also bring up Charles Manson when we are talking about a school board voting to get rid of mask mandates early?

          So correct me if I am wrong in any way. We unite by openly discussing our ideas, crazy or not. That’s the only way to learn. Not being able to speak freely only increases hate, division and leads to perpetuated ignorance. Even though I think you are cray cray, I don’t dislike you because I don’t know you. To truly love is to understand the full depth of a person, including their faults, and still love them anyway. We all have our good points and our bad points.

      2. Weird because I never mentioned race or “white”. Interesting projection…. so if I remember right, Bundy’s group is in fact ultra right and that organized the People’s Rights group which sponsored a float in the 4th of July Parade in Redmond featuring the confederate flag. The mayor did not condemn such a treacherous act in a city that prides itself as flag city. So when alt right groups ban together with religious extremists, they begin to organize against schools. One to break democracy, the other to bring God back to schools. The problem is that there is significant overlap among those two in seeing that white supremecy remain as the chosen people. And so they create moral panic, aka fear of critical race theory. And they know they can’t take down the government at once, but they can use the school board and they have been, across the country. They can sew seeds of doubt about science (because without science, how do you prove them wrong). They can wiggle their way in, bit by bit. Charles Manson repeated the very same phrases as these al right groups. He wanted war. The extremists do too. You must know that communist countries exploit these divisions. We should not be doing this when in only a matter of weeks the governor lifts the masks anyway. We should be banning together and send a clear message. Love wins. Otherwise we are truly doomed. Truly. United we stand, divided we fall.

        1. The United States of America is a Constitutional Republic that uses a Democratic Process. Never has it been written in the United States Constitution that these United States of America are a Democracy. What people, that you label as Alt Right, are trying to do is preserve our United States Constitution and to Protect our God given, big R, Rights. However they feel they need to do it. However reckless they may have been, their hearts are in the correct place. Some people feel that you must meet extreme measures with extreme measures. Other feel that a vote will fix everything. Some people feel that the vote isn’t always strong enough to make their voices heard! Men and women made their voices heard back in the 1700s. Sometimes that is what you have to do.

          1. You are revealing yourself as anti-democracy. Be careful, you are sounding very anti-government, science, democracy, and very much parroting the very Movement I am seeing across Europe… cleverly concealing anti-freedom ideals and promoting war. Stupid. But we aren’t there yet and this disgusts the general population. We see what you are doing on school boards, and nothing against most of these kind people serving but you must consider the bigger picture. You must be vigilant against these groups. Northwest is full of them. Unmasking children will not likely hurt us at large, buy you are purposely undermining the governor, science, institutions that study and serve, for what? Three week advance? To flex your muscles? Why? At the risk of sweet babies? Making children choose sides at school? Explain themselves to their peers? It’s cruel and unnecessary. You are not considering the effects you have on democracy because you don’t believe in it. Sad. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/national-socialist-movement

  10. Conservative virtue signaling in action.

    However, at this point, I could not care less if you wear a mask or not. Humanity is a poor species anyway. Let us contract this and ignore science and die off so Earth has a chance.

    1. Definitely virtue signaling. They circled the wagons and are big time trolling. Panic. Lol. Omicron has provided a good amount of low level protection and lots of long haul Covid cases. They are political grandstanding with little to lose since the masks come off soon anyways. Would be nice if they allowed the well fitting kids N95 masks to be released for kids before they make their political agenda moves, but hey its not my problem anymore. Long live, Putin I guess. Stupid is as stupid does.

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