Republicans, who control the State Congressional and Executive Branches, told Oklahomans that Gov. Stitt and the Oklahoma State Congress had protected students from mask mandates by signing SB 658 into law. The residents of the Sooner State are realizing, now that school has started and their children are required to attend ‘masked’ in the classroom, that SB 658 doesn’t give the protections for students that elected Republican officials claimed it would.
All over the state, school districts are defying the law by enacting mask mandates for children against their parents’ wishes. The Governor signed a bill with too many loopholes. As the last protector of his citizens, Gov. Stitt was responsible for telling the legislature he wouldn’t sign a weak bill. But that kind of courage doesn’t come around often in politics.
The bill does allow school districts to implement mask mandates but only through the school board.
One of the loopholes in SB 658:
“A board of education of a public school district or a technology center 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 within the jurisdiction of where the board is located and when the jurisdiction of where the board is located is under a current state of emergency declared by the Governor.”
Only the School Board can enact a mask mandate according to SB658, but that isn’t what is happening in many of these districts. Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel told ABC 5 that he decided it wasn’t against the law to enact his mask mandate because he went around the school board making the unilateral decision to require masks.
Contact your elected leaders to let them know that you want a special legislative session!
— OK Republican Party (@officialOKGOP) August 16, 2021
There has been zero pushback from elected Republican officials in Oklahoma, including Gov. Stitt, who claims to be a patriot Conservative. In fact, Gov. Stitt went as far as saying that he appreciated “that school districts like Santa Fe Charter Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools are respecting parents’ rights to decide what is best for the health of their children and opt-out of mask requirements if they choose.”
What about the teachers? Do adults with a sound mind have the right to decide whether to wear medical devices like masks? The answer in Oklahoma City seems to be, “No.” Local reports say that OKCPS put six teachers on leave after refusing to comply with the district’s mask mandate.
The crowd now chanting USA pic.twitter.com/ieWyEO6F3y
— Shelby Montgomery (@KOCOShelbyM) August 14, 2021
Oklahoma City Public Schools sent Connor Hansen, a reporter for FOX 25, a statement regarding the suspension, saying, “Today, six OKCPS employees were placed on paid Administrative Leave after refusing to comply with the district’s requirement that face coverings be worn while on school property.”
“Per OKCPS Administrative Regulation C-26-R2 Mask Requirement to Protect against the Spread of COVID-19, all employees are afforded the opportunity to request a medical accommodation,” OKCPS wrote. “Because this is an ongoing personnel matter, we cannot comment further. As always, the health and safety of OKCPS students and staff is our highest priority.”
“I just spoke with an attorney for POE who says five Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers are now on paid suspension for not following the district’s mask policy. This will likely be challenged in court,” Connor Hansen tweeted.
The district tells me it is working on a statement to send out.
— Connor Hansen (@Connor_R_Hansen) August 17, 2021
SB 658 says: “Any mandate to implement wearing a mask or any other medical device shall be reconsidered at each regularly scheduled board
Did the Superintendent break the law now that no elected board will reconsider the decision? Where is Gov. Stitt?
Most Oklahomans do not want refugees resettled here, but we would like you to do something about schools violating the law against mask mandates and to call a special session. @officialOKGOP maybe Stitt needs a challenger too https://t.co/dbCK7So6rm
— Don't mandate me bro (@bad_tits) August 18, 2021
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