House Passes Bill to Limit School COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements
Mike Seals - May 26, 2021 10:54 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – The House today passed a bill that would prohibit public schools, colleges, universities or CareerTech centers from implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition for admittance and from requiring only non-vaccinated populations to wear masks.
Senate Bill 658 is authored by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, and Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman. The measure also requires the State Department of Education and school districts to provide in any notice or publication provided to parents regarding immunization requests the immunization requirements of the school, including the requirement to either provide current, up-to-date immunization records or a signed and completed exemption form.
“Should the force of government be used to force citizens to do something they don’t want to do, or should it be used to empower the rights of citizens,” West asked. “This protects a student’s and a parent’s right to choose for themselves whether a vaccination is appropriate for them for their own personal health reasons or their religious or personal beliefs. This disallows discrimination against students and parents that choose to be exempt from such vaccinations.”
West said the measure is necessary as there has been a push for public schools and higher education institutions to require a vaccination against COVID-19 as a requirement for admittance or to require documentation that such a vaccine has been received in the form of a “vaccine passport.”
“For the sake of children throughout the state, I’m glad this bill is one step closer to becoming law,” Standridge said. “With this legislation, vaccine passports for Oklahoma students will not exist.”
Additionally, the measure provides that a board of education for a school district or technology school district may only implement a mandate to wear a mask or any other medical device after consultation with the local county health department or city-county health department. Such a mandate must explicitly list the reasons for the mandate and shall reference the specific masks or medical devices that would meet the requirements of the mandate. Any mandate to implement wearing a mask or any other medical device shall be reconsidered at each regularly scheduled board meeting.
SB 658 in its final form passed the House with a vote of 76-18. It now moves to the governor for his consideration.