House Democrats Hope to Pass Bill to Restore Mask Mandates in Oklahoma Schools

Mike Seals - August 10, 2021 10:49 am

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‘Safe at School Act’ looks to restore schools’ ability to mandate masks

House Democrats have filed a bill to reverse Senate Bill 658, allowing school districts to once again issue mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
Senate Bill 658 imposed new rules for school districts to create mask mandates and makes it illegal to require COVID-19 vaccines.

The Safe at School Act, House Bill 2967, would restore local control for Oklahoma communities by repealing portions of Senate Bill 658 Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, says.

“Needs across Oklahoma are different, and schools need to be able to make decisions about safety based on local data rather than waiting for the Governor to declare a state of emergency.”

Provenzano says she’s been contacted by numerous parents asking her to keep their kids safe while at school.

Provenzano is joined by Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC, Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City, Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater, Rep. Jacob Resencrants, D-Norman, and Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa.

“We now have a vehicle to save lives by overturning this short-sighted law,” Nichols said. “If the leadership in the House and Senate now agree that SB658 will have a devastating impact on Oklahoma children and educators, we can make this right for our communities and return local control.”

Rep. Ranson says he’s concerned for higher-ed students since SB 658 affects high education institutions’ ability to protect students.

Stillwater hosts a large population of college-aged students, and Senate Bill 658 bans colleges, such as OSU, from instituting mandatory health safety protocols. Stillwater has the potential of being the epicenter to a super spreader event.”

House Dems say they are aware that legislation signed last session would be hard to overturn in a special session but hope they can do it as they look at changes made in other states like Arkanasas.

“If Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson can change his mind in order to save lives, surely Oklahoma’s elected leaders can do the same,” Fugate said. “Now is not the time to dig our heels into highly political positions. We need to work together to empower local leaders to do what is best for our children.”

 

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