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Federal COVID relief funds withheld from school after it ends mask mandate

The Oregon Department of Education has withheld federal COVID relief from the Alsea School District in Benton County after it lifted its mask mandate.

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The Alsea School District in Benton County, Oregon has had federal COVID funds withheld from it by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) after it made a decision to lift its mask mandate.

"ODE does not support the decision in Alsea School District. They should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning," said the department in a statement.

According to Oregon Live, Marc Thielman "a Republican who’s running for governor of Oregon," said the district will be sticking to its new voluntary mask policy, which will be implemented when the schools reopen on Monday.

"The decision comes from the overwhelming quantitative and qualitative data and scientific evidence that masking has had little to no significant effect at slowing the spread of (the omicron variant of Covid-19)," Thielman told Oregon Live in a response by email.

"Our current omicron wave that created our staff shortage occurred when we were still enforcing masking. This reality only adds to the wisdom of our school board to take back local control and let each individual make their own decisions regarding masking."

"This means parents must decide if they wish for their child to be masked when at school, both inside or outside," concluded Thielman.

Thielman continued expressing the same sentiment on his Twitter account on Sunday:

"At what point, will Gov. Brown & OHA [the Oregon Health Authority] listen to diversity of voices they’re tasked with serving as experts across the globe move to balance measures against the collateral damages done by the very measures they installed to protect the public?"

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