Tillamook School Board Workshop Dec. 21st Reviews “Resolution for Local Control”, Mask Mandate

By Andrea Goss*, for the Tillamook County Pioneer

The Tillamook School Board Workshop was quiet and not very well attended by the community. Three of the board members wore masks, two did not. There were ten community members in the audience and we were not allowed to speak

The purpose of the Board Workshop was discussing a resolution (2022-02) Resolution for Local Control asking the State to “return local authority” to the board. Some of the board members indicated that prior to August they had the authority to make the decision regarding masks and that the Governor took that authority away from them.

According to information board members presented, there have been some difficulty with “toeing the line” in terms of making kids wear masks in class. Some students choose to openly defy doing so, and the board is concerned about taking students out of class for not wearing masks, and is concerned for the teachers who did not sign up for being mask police in the classroom. Classroom time should be for teaching and learning.

Two of the points in the resolution include: Insist that the governing authority for school policy be returned to locally elected School Board members and that the state provide known metrics (to help guide them); and no longer suspend students for willingly defying the mask mandate.

There was discussion of the financial implications of the district defying the mandate. The school district Finance Director expressed some concern that the individual board members might not understand the full implications of doing so (and that the board doesn’t have a plan to survive if the State were to impose those fines.) One of the board members said that he thought it was ridiculous to threaten teachers’ certificates or to impose fines on the school if the mandate was not adhered to.

There was additional discussion and some re-writes of the resolution. TSD Superintendent Curt Shelley and administration will review the resolution in detail, make some wording changes, and return it to the board members. Shelley also plans to run it by the Local Health Authority (LHA – Tillamook County Community Health Centers) because there the board is working with the LHA in terms of masking and vaccination decisions.

The board will consider the final resolution voted on at the January board meeting, to be held January 10, 2022 at 5:30 pm.

In Oregon, several other school districts are reviewing and/or of passed “Local Control” resolutions, such as Eagle Point (near Medford) and Redmond School Districts. https://www.mailtribune.com/education/2021/11/18/eagle-point-school-board-passes-local-control-covid-19-resolution/

An Eastern Oregon school district, Adrian, has been fined over $11,000 by OSHA for mask mandate violations. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2021-11-13/oregon-school-district-fined-11k-over-covid-violations

*The Tillamook County Pioneer is proud and excited to introduce our Education reporter, Andrea Goss. She has been a regular attendee at Tillamook School District meetings for several years as part of her work as a Victim’s Assistant in the Tillamook County District Attorney’s office. For the past 15 years, she has been a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) representing kids in the Child Welfare System in Tillamook County. Andrea and her husband Larry have been married for almost 58 years and have lived in Tillamook for the past 20 years. We have four children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. I have lifelong experience as an advocate to help make a difference in the lives of our students in Tillamook School District #9. I have worked with students who struggle to simply stay in school. I have also worked with students who are college bound. In between those groups there are many students who will work in the trades, in manufacturing, in construction, or in sales. Each child can succeed if given the tools and opportunities to do so, and I intend to help make that happen. I attend these board meetings to represent all of you and to keep you all informed of what is going on and I’m happy to be reporting for the Pioneer on these important issues.