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Education

See Which Oklahoma Schools Are Requiring Masks With Opt Out Provisions, Now That It’s Officially Allowed Under State Law

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StateImpact is keeping track of Oklahoma schools with mask mandates

A judge’s injunction suspending part of the law that effectively bans mask mandates in Oklahoma Public Schools officially went into effect late Wednesday.

The order signed by Oklahoma County District Court Judge Natalie Mai allows schools to continue requiring masks.

A StateImpact tally shows about 20 public school districts – and about two dozen private and tribal schools to which the statute doesn’t apply – have some form of mask mandate in place. The vast majority offer opt out provisions.

“The State of Oklahoma and Governor Kevin Stitt are enjoined from enforcing certain sections of SB658 enacted in 2021against any board of education of a public school district that has

exemptions as described herein,” the order says. “Any mask mandate or requirement for students in a K-12 public school must include the same exemptions that are present in (state vaccine statute citation).”

More schools could soon be added to the list. Jenks Public Schools is considering a masking rule Thursday night and Tulsa Union Public Schools is considering a similar measure Friday.

State law allows parents to get an exemption from vaccines for personal, religious or medical reasons. During a court hearing last week, Mai said the statute treats public and private schools differently and therefore was unconstitutional.

Masking has remained a heatedly debated topic. Parents who oppose mandatory masking in schools are unafraid to show up at school board meetings.

Wednesday night at a school board meeting in Tahlequah to approve a new masking requirement, the Tahlequah Daily Press reports they did just that. Last month, parents took similar action at a school board meeting in Edmond to allow that district’s superintendent to make changes to the district’s COVID-19 mitigation policies.

The debate is unlikely to be abated. More than 50 schools have closed statewide because of cases of the coronavirus since the school year began for most in August.

Early numbers appear to show that masking requirements with opt out provisions increase mask wearing in schools.

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.

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