Mask On, Mask Off: La Salle’s COVID Procedures Adjusted for New School Year


Jasmine McIntosh

With La Salle modifying its health and safety practices to match those of local health authorities’ suggestions, many students and staff are beginning the school year without masks.

Lillian Paugh, Editor

Alongside the beginning of a new school year at La Salle, changes have been made to the school’s remaining COVID-19 procedures and protocols to align with the updates and advice from the Oregon Health Authority and Clackamas Public Health Department.

As outlined on the La Salle website, masks are still optional for students and staff, wellness checks are no longer required for entrance to the building, and contact tracing will not be conducted following in-school exposure. Symptomatic students must be sent to the main office for rapid testing with guardian consent or sent home immediately if consent is not given, with negative tests allowing a return to class, and positive tests constituting being sent home for a five day isolation period.

“So, for all intents and purposes, it’s kind of business as usual,” Vice Principal of Student Life Mr. Aaron Hollingshead said. 

The updated procedures, while largely based on the official state and county guidelines, are also a product of “looking towards other schools in the La Salle district and other private schools in the area to see what other folks are doing and making sure we’re, to some degree, aligned with those practices,” Mr. Hollingshead said.

While not significant alterations to La Salle’s prior practices, which were updated last spring following the lift of the state-wide mask mandate, the differences in La Salle’s general atmosphere in regards to COVID-19 are evident to some students and staff as the community reenters the halls and classrooms with and without masks and without some of the stricter social distancing and wellness check rules practiced last year.

“I guess it just felt like things are kind of getting back to normal,” senior Halia Richter said about her first day back. “[It] feels like we’re going to get back to kind of how it was freshman year. We’ll get to do more activities and… we’ll get more of a normal high school experience.”

La Salle’s mask-optional policy has been in effect since March of last school year, and staff and administration are still dedicated this year to “emphasizing to students that that’s a personal choice,” Mr. Hollingshead said. “We want everyone to feel comfortable making it either way and to respect that choice.”

As for how La Salle intends to respond in the event that  COVID-19 conditions return to the heightened levels seen in the past two years, flexibility and swiftness are key.

“Our game plan, I think if the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that we have to be nimble and willing to shift when things shift or if things shift,” Mr. Hollingshead said. “So my feeling is that if there’s a drastic change in cases or variants, or the local health departments advise that schools do something different, then [the school administration] will meet as a leadership team, we’ll hear from the community, and we’ll look if there needs to be changes. But for the time being, we’re hoping to continue as is.”