Dear Helix families,
Thank you for your patience and support as we are adjusting to the new regulations from OHA and the latest update to ODE’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 School Year. I truly appreciate your input on our July survey and the ideas shared over the last few weeks in your letters and phone calls about the upcoming school year. Like many of you, our school team is ready to put COVID behind us and get to the most important job we have in education, teaching, learning and growing as a community. As educators, we chose this profession to inspire and prepare students for life, to give them the skills necessary to work or go to college, and to help our young people become productive citizens in their community. Despite the challenges of the current mask requirement, we at Helix School District are committed to supporting all of our students this year. We have dedicated staff, caring professionals, and amazing students capable of significant achievements.
Prior to the Governor’s announcement of a new law requiring masks indoors for schools, we were ready to make masks optional. We believe in local control and a family’s ability to make choices to support their child. This belief has not changed. However, the following civil penalties have been outlined if a school/district chooses to violate the new law:
- All teachers, counselors, and administrators can be subject to the violation of the Ethical Educator standard required to maintain licensure. This means every licensed professional is at risk for a violation as well as the potential to lose their license.
- Failure to enforce: Fine based on serious violations, including an assessment for size of the business in line with the Oregon Safe Employment Act; $100 to $2,600.
- School Board members who vote to violate the law, can be personally sued for damage or neglect of the role of the Ethical Board Member. This means, if the School Board chooses to violate the rule, and a student or staff member becomes ill, Board members may be named personally in lawsuits along with the district.
While many in our community may disagree with the new requirement, as a public school district, we are unable to violate the state law as a public school district. We will continue to look into plans that support local options and give staff, students and families choice when it is allowed by the state and our local situation. Above all else, please know that our goal as a district is, and will continue to be to have every student in the building every day.
For now, here are the rules in place for the 2021-2022 school year:
Helix staff and students: masks are required when inside the building.
Masks can be removed for meal times for eating or drinking. Staff members may remove their masks during school hours when no other individuals are in the classroom. Masks are required in shared spaces inside the building regardless of the time of day. Masks are still required on school buses.
Helix staff and students: masks are optional when outside.
Masks can be removed for outside breaks, recess, and outside instruction.
I know this is frustrating and exhausting for many. Your voice is important! If you have a few minutes, please review the Helix School District Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan and consider completing a short survey: the Helix SD Community Input Survey. The Helix School Board, our regional leaders, and I are working hard on your behalf to support local control and choice. The Helix School District will implement a mask-optional plan when it is allowed by the state and local health authority.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at 541-457-2175, ext. 3757 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brad Bixler, Helix Superintendent/Principal