PPS mask mandate to be lifted Mar. 14

Lincoln+students+have+been+wearing+masks+in+school+since+they+returned+to+hybrid+learning+in+early+2021.+The+mask+mandate+is+set+to+be+lifted+in+schools+on+Mar.+14.

Morgan Miller

Lincoln students have been wearing masks in school since they returned to hybrid learning in early 2021. The mask mandate is set to be lifted in schools on Mar. 14.

Morgan Miller

With positive cases and hospitalizations decreasing, the Oregon Governor Kate Brown believes that it is time to join the other 49 states that have lifted indoor mask mandates, including in schools.

On Feb. 28th, Gov. Brown updated the state’s masking guidance, allowing the mask mandate to be lifted on Mar. 12. According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Brown has been working with the OHA to update COVID-19 masking guidelines in schools and other public spaces. 

The OHA will lift the mandate on Mar. 12, meaning that, on Mar. 14, Portland Public Schools (PPS) will no longer require masks in school.

Nurse Mary Johnson said there has been a drop in cases at school since February. 

“[Cases have] plummeted in such a significant way, with each passing day. Yesterday, we had two positives. Today we have one, and that’s phenomenal,” Johnson said.

Even with cases dropping, some members of the Lincoln community are still concerned.

Lincoln senior Anna Whitworth says that having a younger brother with asthma compromises her feeling of safety at school.

“There were moments where I’d leave school [during the rise of Omicron] and I was so panicked,” Whitworth said.

She believes that it would be best if PPS delayed lifting the mandate until the end of the year. 

Johnson agreed. 

“I would not be comfortable with masks off… I just wonder if we can wait until the summer,” Johnson said. 

One reason Johnson believes it would be best to keep masks on at school is that, this year, cases of the flu and other colds have sharply decreased.

“Just generalized gastrointestinal illnesses, it’s really really diminished due to mask-wearing. We’ve also seem less students out ill with colds, flu and strep throat,” Johnson said. 

Although the decision has been made that students will not have to wear masks in school starting on Mar. 14, Johnson said students and faculty can continue to wear their masks for as long as they feel comfortable.