Dad and mom in Oregon, elsewhere get coached on how one can escape masks and vaccine guidelines

ALSEA, Oregon (AP) – An Oregon school principal advises parents that they can use federal disability law to stop their children from wearing masks. A pastor in a California mega-church offers religious exemptions for anyone who has moral conflicts over vaccination requirements.

And the Louisiana Attorney General posted sample letters on his office’s Facebook page for those trying to circumvent the governor’s masking rules.

In the United States, religious figures, doctors, officials and other community leaders are trying to help people circumvent COVID-19 precautions.

While proponents of these workarounds say they look after child health and parental rights, others say such strategies are dishonest and irresponsible and could undermine efforts to roll back the highly contagious Delta variant.

Mask and vaccine requirements vary from state to state, but often allow exceptions for specific medical conditions or religious or philosophical objections.

In Oregon, Superintendent Marc Thielman of the rural Alsea School District told parents they can bypass the governor’s school mask requirement by applying for housing for their children under federal disability law.

Thielman said he got the idea after the governor’s mandate sparked “great, great opposition” from his parents.

“The majority of my parents are skeptical and no longer believe what they’re being told” about COVID-19, said Thielman, whose district in the state’s coastal mountains begins class on Monday. “The majority of my parents say: ‘Are there options?'”

In a letter to educators last week, Democratic Governor Kate Brown said she was shocked that Thielman is undermining her policies by “telling students to lie” because they have a disability.

Brown has mandated masks in schools and vaccinations for all school staff amid a surge in infections afflicting Oregon. The state broke its record for COVID-19 hospital stays day in and day out, and cases in children have increased dramatically.

Thielman, who plans to run for governor next year if Brown cannot be re-elected due to tenure restrictions, said he was not an anti-mask but was sensitive to parents’ concerns that face coverings in children have anxiety and anxiety Headache.

In some cases, he said, these issues warrant an exemption under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973 because they hinder learning.

But Laurie VanderPloeg, deputy chief executive of the Council for Exceptional Children, a advocacy group, warned that federal law does not allow children to be masked just because they asked.

According to the law, school districts would have to go through a formal process to determine if a child actually had a particular mental or physical disability, such as B. a respiratory disease that would warrant an exception to the mask rule.

Oregon-based Jenny Jonak, who has an 11-year-old daughter with autism and health issues that make her more susceptible to COVID-19, said wearing masks was a “very minor inconvenience” to protect students at risk.

“If a child really has a real reason to have a breathing or breathing problem, then that should be respected,” she said. “But if not, then I don’t know what we’re teaching our kids when we’re basically teaching them to break the rules for something as simple as wearing a mask.”

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