Despite some vocal opposition, there is widespread support for K-12 school mask mandates, according to a survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.

The survey shows that 70% of Oregonians support mask mandates in schools, 23% are opposed and 6% are unsure. Support among people without school-age children is 72%, while support amongst parents of school aged children is 65%.

Gov. Kate Brown announced a mask mandate for K-12 schools in July to slow the spread of the coronavirus and the highly contagious delta variant. The rule applies to everyone indoors and outdoors.

People living in urban areas are more likely than people living in rural areas to support mask mandates in schools, according to the survey. The majority of Oregonians do not believe wearing masks jeopardize children’s health and safety, learning capacity, potential or outcomes, teachers’ instructional effectiveness and children’s and families’ freedom. Amaury Vogel, associate executive director of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, called the data “surprising.”

People opposed to the governor’s mask mandate have interrupted school board meetings throughout the state, and even some superintendents and school boards have challenged the mandate.

“To see that many people support it was kind of surprising,” she said.

Jim Fields, a Deschutes County resident and grandparent of two kindergarteners, characterized opposition to the mask mandate as a divisive political lever. He said he supports the mask mandate especially since it means his grandchildren can stay in school.

“It doesn’t seem like mask wearing bothers them at all,” Fields said. “The most important thing for I think both of them is that socialization that school gives them.”

The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center is an independent, nonpartisan organization. The center’s online survey, conducted from Oct. 8-18, was sent to 1,403 Oregon residents. The margin of error is between 1.6% to 2.6%.

The survey also gauged Oregonians’ support of vaccine mandates for children 12 years and older, which significantly fewer people favor.

About 57% of Oregonians support vaccine mandates for children ages 12 years and older, while 33% are opposed and 11% are unsure.

Oregonians living in urban areas are more likely than people in rural parts of the state to support vaccine mandates for children 12 years and older.

Two-thirds of those living in the Portland metro tri-county area support vaccine mandates for children 12 and older, while less than half of those living outside other the tri-county area and Willamette Valley support a mandate.

Oregonians ages 65 and older are also significantly more likely than people between the ages of 18 and 44 to support vaccine mandates for children ages 12 and older.

Only 45% of parents support a vaccine mandate for children age 12 and older, compared to 61% of non-parents.

“This is likely indicative of continued concerns over long-term side effects of vaccination, as well as a lower probability of severe symptoms and hospitalization among infected children,” the organization said.

In an August survey, parents were more hesitant about vaccines for children under 12.