VALE — On July 29, Gov. Kate Brown announced that face coverings will be required in all K-12 schools this fall. According to a news release from Superintendent Alisha McBride on July 30, this decision neither aligns with McBride’s goals nor those of the Vale School District Board of Directors. Two state lawmakers, Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, and Rep. Mark Owens, R-Harney, are also pushing back on Brown’s mandate stating in a, separate, recent news release that, “As legislators, we remain consistent in our positions that our local school districts, in conjunction with local public health authorities continue to have the best pulse on their communities, and should ultimately be the arbiters of mask policies and mandates.”

In the recent news release from McBride, she states that, a month ago, 89.5% of Vale School District stakeholders requested that face coverings be optional in schools.

“The face covering mandate does not reflect the wishes of our community,” she said. 

The Vale School District Board of Directors had voted on and decided Vale School’s mask mandate in the monthly board meeting on July 1, prior to Gov. Brown’s decision.

Additionally, McBride stated that she truly believes that Vale School District families, staff, and community members should have the opportunity to determine whether to wear masks in the K-12 facilities, in accordance with their personal beliefs and circumstances.

“Despite the Governor’s announcement, I will continue to advocate for the ability to make the decision regarding face coverings at the local level,” stated Alisha McBride.

The superintendent continued to state that she recognizes that many individuals within the community share the same opinion, and would want to assist her in advocating for the ability to make decisions regarding face coverings at the local level. Therefore, McBride intends to notify the local community on how they will be able to help advocate for local control.

McBride mentioned, in a second news release on Aug. 3, that there was not a formal opportunity for public input, but the community could provide feedback by writing a letter to the state leaders.

The community can submit their letters by visiting the Oregon Government website at https://bit.ly/3s08h9Z.

Findley and Owens are requesting that Brown makes public the specific data that she used to mandate a state-wide, school-wide mask policy even though Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state epidemiologist, has said that there was not enough evidence to prove that schools or students are responsible for community spread.

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