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Oklahoma Bill Would Ban Some Vaccine, Masking Requirements In Schools

Positive Tomorrows
A group of students play on the playground of Positive Tomorrows, Oklahoma's only school for students experiencing homelessness.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt can now consider a measure banning COVID-19 vaccine and masking requirements for unvaccinated people in schools or on college campuses.

Senate Bill 658 was rushed through both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature this week, where it received overwhelming support from Republican super majorities.

The measure would ban educational institutions from requiring students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend classes. It would also make selective mask mandates for people who haven’t received the vaccine illegal.

Additionally, it would make it harder for schools and colleges to institute a mask mandate or similar public health measure period, requiring them to get approval from local health officials before enacting one.

Oklahoma Democrats widely panned the bill, which they say is clear government overreach.

"This legislation creates a barrier to local control that prevents locally elected school boards from being able to fully protect their students as they and their constituents see fit," said Rep. Andy Fugate of Del City.

Masking and vaccines have been a hot button political issue, despite clear evidence that the mitigation measures reduce COVID-19’s spread in communities.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
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