Union SD#5 would like to share some information about the 21-22 school year.
On July 22, we received new guidelines from the state reducing many of the COVID restrictions that were in place last year, returning many of our decisions to local control, including masks. However, the governor recently announced that she was retracting some of that control by requiring masks to be worn indoors in all public places, rather than leaving this decision up to local districts to decide. The Oregon Health Authority and state implemented Oregon Administrative Rule 333-019-1015, which makes the mask mandate law for schools. The Union Board of Directors and administration concluded that the district is bound to comply with the law for the following reasons:
The district is responsible for the health, safety and well being of all students, staff and visitors;
Education is compulsory and a large group of students cannot be vaccinated at this time;
To defy a law violates the administrative and district code of ethics and policy;
To defy a law would place the district in a potential liability situation as well as individual teachers, administrators and board members;
Failure to implement could result in district fines per violation, potential loss of licensure for administrators and teaching staff, and possible school closure.
Moving forward, we will continue work on the district “Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan” that will include the safety measures we plan to take this school year to combat the effects of Covid-19. Again, while under the current mandate from the state, all staff, students, and visitors are mandated by the state to wear masks while indoors during the school day or when on the bus or on field trips. On a positive note, masks will not be required when we are outside, we will be returning to a traditional high school schedule (7 period day) as well as a traditional sports schedule with no limits on attendance for these activities. Furthermore, we will have unrestricted physical education and recess along with complete use of the expanded cafeteria with updated heating and ventilation systems district wide. We will also be having a traditional in-service with professional development and the addition of woodshop and construction classes for high school students. Ultimately, our plan will be closely reviewed by our local health authorities and by our school board. As we all realized last year, our best laid plans can change very quickly if there is a local outbreak. We will follow the same protocols we did last year for exclusion and quarantine should there be a local outbreak. Our goal is to make this year as normal as possible for students, staff, and parents.
Finally school does not begin until September 7th. Just like last year, we expect these guidelines and mandates to change or be adjusted over the next few weeks. Please have patience, compassion and understanding with us. As changes occur we will keep you posted. Please know that the district will continue to work closely with other superintendents and our local legislators to advocate for returning as much local control as we can to local school districts. If the state returns local control to school districts, we as a district have heard our community and will make masks optional as soon as that is available.
Thank you for being part of our school district. I have always admired how in times of crisis, celebration, or recognition this community has always pulled together and supported each other. If you would like to be a part of advocating to the governor’s office I have attached the direct link to share your opinion here. Please contact the office with any questions or concerns and we will work with you to create the best possible learning environment for your child. We look forward to having a spectacular year and can't wait to see your children!
Respectfully, Union School District Board of Directors
Superintendent, Carter Wells and Principal, Chris Dunlap