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

Posted at 10:12 AM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 08:01:53-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public Schools held a special board meeting Wednesday and voted to allow the district to take legal action against the state over COVID-19 policies.

State law currently prevents districts from issuing a mask mandate unless Gov. Kevin Stitt declares a state of emergency. Stitt said he has no plans to do so.

Before Thursday's meeting, Dr. Deborah Gist, Tulsa Public School Superintendent, said the meeting is important to discuss safety procedures which are now more important than ever, especially as families gear up for back to school,.

"You know, our board is meeting this afternoon to talk about multiple kinds of litigation because it's not just about what's happening with the state," said Gist.

"But it's also about, some of what they've heard from community members who want to understand better."

Many school districts across Green Country are putting plans out for the upcoming school year on how they will tackle COVID-19 and the Delta variant. But there is still debate in some districts. Union Public Schools ended a meeting on Monday after district leaders could not come to an agreement about the district’s quarantine policy for students exposed to COVID-19.

READ MORE: Union Public Schools not reaching a decision on its quarantine policy

Gist said there must be a balance of minimizing loss of learning and enacting quarantine policies if children are exposed to COVID-19. "We want our students to be in school. We know how important it is for them to be in our school buildings, in-person learning with their teachers and their classmates," Gist said. "So, if you have a student or an adult, who's had direct exposure to the virus, we need to follow safety practices."

Gist said TPS is not looking to move back to distanced learning despite a rise in cases across Tulsa County. She said TPS learned a lot in the 18 months since the pandemic started and how the school district is keeping in close contact with health officials.

Gist is encouraging parents to get their children who are 12 and up vaccinated before the school year starts. "Everyone in Tulsa, 12 years and older, we need those vaccines because that's not only how we limit spread, keep our students and all of us in our school, buildings learning together,"

Tulsa Public School's first day of classes is on Aug. 19th.

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