CDC recommends masks in schools, state districts can’t require them

Mike Seals - July 28, 2021 10:14 am

The CDC updated its guidance Tuesday recommending all students wear masks when they return to the classroom this year.

Kids younger than 12 still can’t get vaccines and just over 13 percent of kids 12 to 18 are fully vaccinated in Oklahoma.

“So much is unknown right now, but what we do know is the importance of universal masking,” said Katherine Bishop, the president of the Oklahoma Education Association. “We know the importance of social distancing, good hygiene, handwashing, testing, contact tracing, vaccinations.”

Though school districts like Oklahoma City Public Schools are encouraging masks, they can’t require them this year because of new state law.

The law requires the Governor to declare an emergency before a district can make it a rule.

Governor Stitt says he has no plans to do that.

Rep. Kevin West, one of the bill’s authors says he has no regrets about its wording.

“Everything that I’ve looked at, the masks are very hit and miss,” West said. “And then a lot of what we saw, you had a wide variety of masks, a wide variety of how they were being worn.”

West says he was hearing from parents frustrated with their schools’ policies on masks, especially for younger children.

“We wanted to really put the power in the hands of the parents,” West said.

“You know, I don’t really know,” said West when asked if he would personally send kids to school this year with masks on. “I would probably consult with my child. I’ve got a granddaughter who does not like them at all. I’ve got a grandson that doesn’t mind them. So, you know, even at 10, 12, 9 years old, I would definitely encourage having that conversation.”

West reiterated that the law does not prevent parents from sending their kids to school with masks on.

It also doesn’t prevent schools from taking other precautions like social distancing.

If the Governor did declare an emergency, the law requires school districts to consult with their local health departments if they want to require masks.

The district would have to specify exactly what kinds of masks are allowed and the rule would have to be reconsidered at every school board meeting.

 

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