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Jenks students begin 2021-2022 school year, "fewer than half" wear masks

Jenks first day of school
Posted at 11:19 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 17:18:58-04

JENKS, Okla. — Thousands of students in the Tulsa area returned to the classroom for the first time since the spring, Sunday. Jenks students last school year in the classroom, but now they are not required to wear masks.

“So far…knock on wood everything is going okay but today is day one," said Jenks High School Principal David Beiler.

After seesawing between distanced learning and in-person instruction, last year, 99 percent of Jenks students are signed up to learn face to face, this year.

"It just feels like old times seeing familiar faces," Jenks High School Senior Alyssa Young said.

According to Young, a lot of those faces were not covered by masks.

"There were definitely more people not wearing masks," she said. "I honestly feel comfortable if there’s not that many people around me to not wear a mask, but if there’s a whole lot of people around me then yes I do.”

Beiler said about half of teachers and staff wore masks the first day back. He also said less than half of students opted to cover their mouths and noses with a covering.

A new state law blocks Oklahoma school districts from requiring masks in schools. The Tulsa Public School Board voted, last week, to allow the district to take legal action if needed.

“We’re doing everything we can to promote safety within the parameters that we’ve been given," Beiler said.

That includes social distancing and hand sanitizing stations in all class rooms and common areas. Beiler said, if things go south and cases spike in the high school, they are prepared to do what it takes to stop the spread.

“You never know, we may have to go back to mask mandates, and if that happens at some point in time, assuming we’re permitted to and that decisions is made, I think students will just comply because they’ve done a really good job," he said.

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