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Crook County, Redmond schools adopt OSAA mask, vaccine guidance; Bend-La Pine still weighing steps

(Update: Redmond schools also to allow maskless athletes, spectators with vaccination proof)

Under OHA guidelines, vaccinated student athletes, spectators go maskless indoors, with proof

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Under new state guidance, Oregon's student athletes and spectators can go maskless at indoor sporting events, if they are vaccinated and can prove it with their vaccination card. And that's left schools across the state deciding how to proceed.

The new guidelines from the Oregon School Activities Association were released Wednesday. It also states athletes and spectators can go maskless at all outdoor events.

The Crook County and Redmond school districts are the first in Central Oregon to accept the new mask rules that include checking for proof of vaccination to allow indoor athletic events without masks.

“Any opportunity we have to bring life back to normalcy, we are going to go with that," Crook County School District Communications Director Jason Carr told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday.

While the school district is adopting the new guidance, Carr did mention one issue: verifying the authenticity of vaccination cards.

“We are going to do our best to manage the situation," Carr said. "If somebody shows us a vaccine card, they will be let in, because we have no way of verifying whether one is real or not.”

Bend-La Pine Schools were still discussing whether they will be adopting the new masking rules to allow no masks at athletic events for fully vaccinated participants and spectators.

But the Redmond School District informed families late Thursday that they, like Crook County, will allow athletes and others without masks at indoor athletic events, if they can prove full vaccination.

“It makes it a lot more appealing to compete indoors without a mask, if they are vaccinated," said Doug Taylor, athletic Director at Redmond High. "But again, that’s a decision between the student athlete and their family.”

Taylor said the decision was better late than ever, but that it may not make much of difference, considering there's only four weeks of school left.

“I’m not sure it’s going to have a big impact, because you need time for those vaccinations to kick in," Taylor told NewsChannel 21. "It’s an opportunity, but it’s going to have minimal impact this year.”

Late Thursday afternoon, Crook County School District issued this news release:

Crook County School District Applauds Updated State Guidance that Removes Some Restrictions for Masks in Schools

Masks are no longer required for indoor sports if athletes can prove they’re fully vaccinated

(Prineville, Oregon) – Crook County School District has consistently advocated for state leaders to review COVID-19 mandates as the science changes and vaccination rates increase. Earlier in the week, Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson asked the Oregon Department of Education to review the indoor mask policy for athletes after a recent incident at a girls’ basketball practice. Last night’s announcement by ODE that additional mask requirements would be lifted, came as a pleasant surprise.

Masks are no longer required at school during recess or P.E., and the state has lifted mask requirements for outdoors sports and even large events like graduation ceremonies. Indoor sports still require masks, unless an athlete can provide proof they’re fully vaccinated.

“We’re thankful state leaders are following CDC guidance and recognizing that there’s limited risk of spreading COVID-19 outdoors. Mask fatigue is a real thing, so I know our students and staff were celebrating this morning when they learned they can enjoy P.E., recess, and other breaks outdoors without wearing a mask,” explained Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson.

The state of Oregon has somewhat eased masking restrictions for athletes who compete in indoor sports, like basketball and wrestling. Athletes who show proof of being fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks during practices or competitions. The school district will also extend that same opportunity to spectators who can provide a vaccination card. 

“COVID-19 has been challenging for us on so many levels, so we celebrate every small victory that we can, and the updated guidance means we’re heading in the right direction. We’re choosing to look at the glass being half full and realize that we’re one step closer to a return to normalcy,” said Dr. Johnson.

Crook County High School is moving graduation to the outdoor arena at the Crook County Fairgrounds to accommodate more families, and the new guidance means the CCHS Class of 2021 can enjoy their final moments as seniors without having to wear a mask.

Redmond School District message to families:

Mask Update 5/20/2021

RSD Families, 

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Education provided updated guidance regarding mask-wearing at schools, and as a result the Redmond School District has updated its rules as well. 

Effective immediately, masks are now optional for Redmond School District students, staff, volunteers or visitors when outdoors. This includes at recess, outdoor classes including P.E.  and music, and arrival and dismissal. Social distancing remains in effect, and quarantine rules have not changed.

Masks are still required inside our school buildings during the school day and on buses, regardless of vaccination status. 

All those attending after-school events inside our schools must wear masks unless they provide proof of full vaccination upon entry. 

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.


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