Measure protecting health choice signed into law
Mike Seals - June 3, 2021 9:59 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Bill 658, which will greatly restrict mask mandates and forbid COVID vaccine passports in educational institutions, has been signed into law. The measure was authored by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman.
“In this post-pandemic era, it is time to look back and determine what we did right and what we did not so right,” Standridge said. “Masking children should not be an easily taken step, especially when many enforcing the mandate were often not wearing masks themselves. Therefore, this legislation raises the bar on when schools can force students to wear masks. Most importantly, schools cannot force unvaccinated children to wear masks. Additionally, students should not be forced to get the COVID vaccine to enroll or attend school. Parents should have the ultimate decision in their children’s healthcare needs, and for the sake of parents and children throughout our state, I am proud to have gotten this legislation across the finish line.”
The measure will:
- Disallow any medical device mandates, including masks, unless there is a declared state of emergency;
- Prohibit any education institution in Oklahoma to require a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine passport to enroll or attend;
- Prohibit mask mandates for unvaccinated students;
- Require schools to post on their website vaccine options for parents;
- Require school boards to vote on any medical device mandates, including masks, at each board meeting;
- Require any mandate to be specific on which types of masks and the exact purpose they are being mandated; and
- Require school boards to consult with their local county health department before implementing any medical device or mask mandate.
Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, was the House principal author.
“This bill is about protecting a student’s right to attend public school in person even if that student or their parent decide the COVID-19 vaccine is not the right choice for them,” West said. “This also will protect unvaccinated students from being forced to wear masks when mask mandates do not apply to all. 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?”
The measure will go into effect on July 1, with full implementation ahead of the 2021-2022 school year.