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Third Washington school district drops masks for students

Following a vote from the board, students in the Colville School District can choose whether to wear a mask. Masks are still required for teachers and staff.

COLVILLE, Wash. — Students in the Colville School District (CSD) returned to school Tuesday morning with the option of whether to wear a mask. Teachers and staff were still required to wear masks.

Last week, the CSD board of directors voted to make masks optional for students in Colville schools starting Tuesday. Masks are still required in the state of Washington, as a mask mandate remains in place until March 21.

While students will have the option to not wear a mask at Colville schools, teachers, staff, and visitors will be required to wear masks until the state mandate expires. Masks will also still be required on school buses as a federal mandate requires masks to be worn on public transportation.

In a letter sent to parents, CSD said students will have the option to still wear a mask.

“As a reminder, our district will not tolerate bullying of any kind for those who choose or not choose to continue wearing masks. Students will have the choice to wear a mask at school, with the expectation that others’ choices will be respected. One should not make assumptions regarding someone’s beliefs or health status, nor should they comment on them,” the letter reads.

CSD is the third local school district to vote todefy Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s mask mandate following Kettle Falls and Richland. Richland did later reinstate its mask rules following Gov. Inslee's announcement about ending the mask mandate.

After Kettle Falls School District (KFSD) failed to comply with statewide mask mandates, they were sent an official warning from the state of Washington saying if they continue to defy, further action would be taken including an eventual decrease in state funding.

Kettle Falls School District Superintendent Michael Olsen said the district is prepared to use cash reserves if the state withholds money, but can only survive for about four to six weeks.

"If Gov. Inslee's timeline is mid-march, that would be after OSPI started withholding our apportionment. So, in order to continue not wearing masks, we would need to be able to rely on some of our cash reserves to get us through until we receive that apportionment back," Olsen said.

The vote from the CSD board of directors comes despite an announcement that same day from Gov. Inslee that face masks will no longer be required beginning March 21 for most settings, including schools and childcare facilities.

WATCH: Kettle Falls School District Superintendent Michael Olsen on defying mask mandate

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