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Oklahoma City Public Schools announces mask mandate policy

kids masks classroom school children
Posted at 9:46 AM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 11:53:59-04

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Friday morning the district will stand firm on requiring masks for students and staff this school year.

On Wednesday, a different Oklahoma City-area charter school district announced it will be the first in the state to institute a mask mandate for students and staff. This makes two schools districts openly going against the ban on mask requirements.

READ MORE: First Oklahoma school district defies state law, enacts mask mandate

Senate Bill 658 states that school boards in Oklahoma cannot have a mask and vaccination requirement in order to attend that took effect July 1.

An email was sent out to OKCPS families and staff saying the school district has invested in many ways to create safety in the classrooms such a cleaning, contact tracing, and even social distancing. OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel says it's still not enough.

McDaniel notes that he made the decision to require masks to be worn at school facilities, transportation, and school-sponsored events. This mandate extends to those who are vaccinated.

A portion of the email to parents and faculty reads:

OKCPS will continue to provide a mask to ANY student, staff member, or visitor that presents without one.

While Senate Bill 658 prohibits school boards from mandating the wearing of masks, the law does not prohibit the Superintendent and district administration from requiring the wearing of masks by our students, staff, and visitors.

McDaniel states this decision was motivated by trying to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Students or faculty members who can't wear masks due to medical or other reasons can request an exemption from the policy.

Some of the other decisions mentioned in the email include:

  • OKCPS is restricting access to most of their buildings to outside visitors during school hours.
  • The school district will still offer COVID-19 testing for all students and staff starting Aug. 16 if they have been exposed or showing symptoms of contracting the virus.
  • Vaccination clinics will be held so those interested can be vaccinated as soon as Fall Break.

The email states that COVID-19 is still a threat in the community, not just hypothetical. In the first three days of classes, the school district has seen over triple-digit reports in new, active cases.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt released a statement Friday morning in support of the districts implementing requirements while still giving parents and staff ways to opt-out of masking.

“I appreciate that school districts like Santa Fe Charter Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools are respecting parents’ rights to decide what is best for the health of their children and opt out of mask requirements if they choose.”
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt

McDaniel is encouraging students, families, staff, and the community to prioritize the safety, health, and welfare of others. He says this can be done by wearing masks, getting vaccinated, and quarantining properly.

His note ends with, "None of this is easy, but I assure you it’s worth it. Our kids are worth it. And, they’re counting on us, Oklahoma City."

Read the full letter here.

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