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Parents react to TPS board decision to allow legal action regarding mask mandate ban

Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 14:23:50-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public Schools could join others and take action against the state to implement a mask mandate.

READ MORE: Oklahoma parents file lawsuit against state, Gov. Stitt over school mask mandate ban

In a meeting Wednesday night, the TPS Board of Education voted to authorize legal action against the state in regards to Senate Bill 658, a new law that bans mask mandates in schools without an emergency order from the governor, which Gov. Kevin Stitt previously said he doesn’t plan to do.

READ MORE: Tulsa Public School board votes to allow for legal action against state over masking law

That law is concerning many districts and parents as COVID cases rise.

JJ Burnam has three kids in TPS, one of which is too young to get vaccinated. He said he wishes the district could do more to protect its students.

“I think that for the legislature to have, you know, revoke that ability is really harmful," Burnam said. "The only mandate we have right now is from the legislature, which doesn’t allow for safe schools.”

It also concerns a group of lawyers, including Gary Allison. He sent a letter to the TPS board earlier this week, notifying it of a potential lawsuit against the district if it did not implement a mask mandate.

Now that the school board could take action against the state, he said they won’t be bringing a lawsuit forward against TPS. But they are still waiting and watching to see what the board will do.

“It’s not clear that they’re going to take action," Allison said. "They are authorized to monitor the situation and take what action they think is appropriate.”

The matter of masks is important to Allison after he almost lost his son to COVID-19.

“He was on a ventilator for over a week," he said. "He nearly died. And I wouldn’t want any parent to go through this, and no parent ought to put their child in a situation where they might have to go through this.”

Some parents and groups don’t agree with a mask mandate in schools.

The nonprofit “Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights” is encouraging parents at schools that are “defying state law” to sign up to be part of a lawsuit against those districts.

Meanwhile, Burnam is asking his kids to wear masks at school and encourages those who can to get vaccinated.

“If everyone who’s eligible to get vaccinated will get vaccinated, we can really curb this problem and make masks much less of an issue," Burnam said.

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