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Springfield Public Schools to Follow State Mask Mandate

Jen Wright

Springfield Public Schools will require masks indoors this school year, following state COVID guidelines, according to the board meeting held in person on Monday night.

Community members expressed concerns over the mask mandate, the validity of systemic racism, and the accessibility of the board meetings. This was the first held in person since March 2020, without a virtual option.

The main concern was the recent spike in K-12 COVID cases in Lane County, with 108 confirmed cases last week, and 50 more over the weekend.

One speaker commented on the mental and emotional effects of masking on children, and asked the board to respect parents’ decisions.

Board member Jonathan Light asked if there would be consequences for not following the mandate. Superintendent Todd Hamilton said yes.

“We still haven’t seen all of the final details, but the preliminary information indicates that there will be civil penalties, and it is a school-based penalty,” Hamilton said.

The penalty is a fine of $500 per incident, per day.

At the end, several board members thanked attendees for a respectful meeting, including Emilio Hernandez.

 “I was more worried we were not going to have a respectful meeting here,” Hernandez said. “I think that everyone responded with respect to let other people’s opinions be said and heard, and hopefully they will be respected outside as well. Otherwise, we’re just not gonna grow as a community.”

The board announced future meetings will be broadcast alongside in-person attendance for accessibility, and Light recommended that online meetings be recorded and archived as well.

The next board meeting will be August 30 at 5 p.m.

Jen is an intern for KLCC, through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. This is her first radio news job. She is Oregon-born and raised and loves writing, reading and recording. Her favorite things to write about are community and social justice issues, LGBTQIA+ news and history, and cultural deep-dives.
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