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Back to school concerns in Green Country amid COVID-19

Posted at 4:56 PM, Aug 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 14:37:02-04

TULSA, Okla. — With the Delta Variant of COVID-19 cases on the rise, many teachers and students are gearing up to return to the classroom.

For many school districts, the safety of students and staff is top priority.

One of the biggest questions among districts is whether or not to mandate masks. That's the conversation school leaders are having since Senate Bill 658 passed. The bill prohibits school boards from mandating masks in schools without an emergency order from the Governor, which Gov. Stitt said he doesn't plan to do.

Health experts and parents are worried about the safety of kids as they return to school with the surge of Delta cases.

"It is alarming to consider all of the young folks, back in school, in the classroom, unable to mask because of Senate Bill 658. Masking is by far one of the strongest tools we have at mitigating the spread of this virus,” Dr. Chris Sudduth with Remedy Health Direct Primary Care tells 2 News.

With vaccines becoming widely available, many were hoping the pandemic to be under control by now, but the Delta variant has changed everything.

Dena Fink's daughter is a sophomore at Webster High School. She's one of thousands of Oklahoma students returning to school this week. Her mother says in-person instruction is how she learns best.

Fink is worried for her daughter's safety with the Delta variant posing a serious threat.

It's that reason Fink said they are reconsidering getting the vaccine.

“I’ve actually been thinking about it and talking about it with my daughter about getting it because I’ve noticed that there is a lot of teenagers I guess that are catching it," Fink said.

While school districts can not enforce a mask mandate without an emergency order issued by the governor, Fink said she would like him to issue one for the safety of her child and others.

Here is a breakdown of some of the school district's policy to date:

  • TPS is expecting every adult and student regardless of vaccination status wears a mask at all times indoors and outdoors while in the presence of others.
  • Bixby Public Schools says teachers will have full authority to determine if their masks will be required in their classroom.
  • Jenks Public Schools masks are strongly encouraged but not required for students, employees, and visitors on JPS property.
  • Glenpool Public Schools says masks will be optional. They will only implement a mask mandate if the governor declares an emergency order.
  • Broken Arrow Public Schools says face coverings will be optional for students and employees.
  • Coweta Public Schools and Catoosa Public Schools will keep masks optional for students and employees.
  • Claremore public schools will not require masks unless the governor implements an emergency declaration. However, it is encouraging staff and students to wear a mask, especially if they have not been vaccinated.

For a full list of what school districts in our area are doing, click here.

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