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    March 4, 2022

    Masks to become optional beginning March 12, 2022

    Dear GBSD Families and Staff,

    Earlier this week, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced a change in the timeline for lifting the statewide indoor mask mandate, from March 19 to 11:59 p.m. on March 11.

    The State of Oregon based its decision on the dramatic drop in hospitalizations and case counts statewide, the ongoing effectiveness of vaccines, and the recently updated metrics that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks for risk evaluation announced on Feb. 25.

    Multnomah County has also announced it will not be implementing a local mask mandate at this time.

    Because of this, the Gresham-Barlow School District will make masks optional beginning March 12.

    We know this change will come as a relief to many in our community but we also know that it may be concerning to others. In this new phase, determining whether to wear a mask is a personal decision. Moving forward, the Gresham-Barlow School District wants to make it clear that we support and respect everyone, whether they are wearing a mask or not. Bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Please report any incidents to school administration.

    We want you to know that as a part of the CDC’s recent updates to their guidance, they now have a tool to help communities determine which mitigation strategies are best suited to their situation based on local data. You can find more information about this tool here. 

    In addition, informed by local and State COVID-19 numbers and disease severity, and the CDC’s shift in the COVID-19 response framework, the Oregon Department of Education has updated the Ready Schools Safe Learners guidance. These changes include:

    • Transition from statewide decision-making to county-level decision-making.
    • Continued school exclusion of anyone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 5 days.
    • Pausing general contact tracing and quarantine in school settings, consistent with the contact tracing pause in the general community several weeks ago. Contact tracing and quarantine are widely understood to be ineffective at slowing the spread of a virus that moves as quickly as the Omicron variant. 
    • Ending the “test-to-stay” option in order to devote testing resources to: 
      • Enhanced school-based testing of individuals with symptoms
      • Enhanced screening testing for unvaccinated staff and students
    • Ongoing support for continued use of masks among anyone who needs or wants to do so. 

    The Gresham-Barlow School District will work closely with Multnomah County Public Health to implement these changes which will also go into effect March 12. As we move forward, we will keep you informed. Updates will be posted to the GBSD’s Health and Safety Resources Webpage.

    Questions?

    If you have questions, please submit them to the District’s online listening system “Let’s Talk” for a prompt response. 

    Thank you for partnering with us as we enter a new phase and move forward with these changes.

    Sincerely,

    Gresham-Barlow School District