SUTHERLIN, Ore. -- The Sutherlin School District is standing in opposition to Gov. Kate Brown’s recent mask mandate for K-12 schools.
Oregon’s new rules fall in line with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which comes after a surge in cases due to the Delta variant of COVID-19.
In a statement on Facebook, Superintendent Terry Prestianni said the district was “shocked” to learn about the new mandate. He also said that since late June, the district has had almost 200 students attending summer school without masks and they have not had any COVID-19 cases.
Prestianni told KEZI 9 News he wants to fight for more local control of mask mandates.
"This is the symptom of a bigger problem, in my mind and my board's mind, the lack of local control," said Prestianni.
Earlier in the pandemic, officials indicated that COVID-19 rules would be made on a local basis.
In a statement announcing the new mandate, Gov. Kate Brown's office said: "The purpose of the rule is to ensure all students can return to classrooms for full-time, in-person instruction in the coming school year with minimal disruptions."
Prestianni is set to meet with Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education officials to discuss what Sutherlin will be able to do moving forward.
But what do Sutherlin parents think? Mom of two, Brianna Price, said last year was a struggle for her first-grader. She said while she will comply with mandates, she wants what is best for her son.
"You know, I don't want to force it on him, but if he has the opportunity in school to not have to wear it, I'm not going to make him wear it," said Price.
Price also said in an ideal world, more control would be given to parents in the district.
"There's going to be parents that want their kids to wear the masks, and then there's going to be parents who don't them to wear them, so I think it'd be good to have it up to the parents you know if they want want their kids to wear it, then if they want them to wear them then they can and if they don't want them to, they don't have to," said Price.
While Prestianni and his school board will continue to follow mandates, he said they will still push for what they believe is right for their district.
“We will continue to fight for local control!” Prestianni wrote on Facebook.