PONCA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – The Ponca City Board of Education passed a face mask requirement on Thursday.
The temporary mandate applies to anyone who enters a Ponca City Public Schools indoor facility during normal school operating hours, according to a PCPS news release.
The mask mandate goes into effect Friday, Sept. 10. However, an opt-out provision is in place for medical reasons, religious reasons and strong personal beliefs. Go to www.pcps.us for the opt-out form.
The decision comes after a recent surge of positive COVID-19 cases within the school district.
“Last week was a difficult week with the number of in-school COVID-19 positive cases. We ended the week of August 30, 2021, with 61 in-school positive cases and 480 close contacts. This data far exceeds our highest numbers from last year,” PCPS officials said. “As you can see, WE MUST mitigate these staggering numbers and KEEP students in school as safely as possible to accommodate their academic and social emotional needs. We have seen more spread among students and staff this year and are having difficulty managing contact tracing.”
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly among adolescents, in large part because of the highly contagious Delta variant, and top Oklahoma health officials are recommending juveniles age 12 and up get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Mid-Del Public Schools Board and the Putnam City Public Schools Board both implemented face mask mandates this week. Other school districts enacted face mask mandates in recent weeks, including Oklahoma City, Edmond and Yukon.
These actions come after an Oklahoma County District Court judge agreed with a motion for an injunction against Senate Bill 658, an Oklahoma law signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt last May, prohibiting school boards from implementing face mask mandates.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association and a group of teachers filed a lawsuit against the state in Oklahoma County District Court, seeking the lawsuit be declared unconstitutional on multiple grounds.
The plaintiffs then sought an injunction on the law until the court makes a ruling on its constitutionality.