Edmond parents react after one of Oklahoma’s largest school districts removes mask mandate

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EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Edmond Public Schools will no longer require students to wear masks when they come back after Christmas break.

“I feel confident we were doing what we should be doing to keep students safe,” said Superintendent Angela Grunewald.

Grunewald credits masks for the decrease in the district’s COVID-19 cases.

According to the school board’s coronavirus tracking site, the number of positive cases ranged from 300 to 400 from early August to mid-September. COVID-19 positive cases are under 100 in the district from late October until now.

Grunewald told KFOR she and other school officials have consulted with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department about new variants, wondering if they should be concerned before ultimately deciding to drop the mask requirement.

“And so taking the advice from them and listening to them yesterday, I felt confident that we were making the right decision,” said Supt. Grunewald. 

An Edmond Public Schools parent told News 4 her son complained about breathing most days while wearing his mask, so she’s happy about the district’s decision. 

“I mean, some days he’ll get in the car and rip it off and say, ‘Oh, I can breathe,'” said Morgan Barnes. “I wasn’t too happy about it just because we can go to stores and not have to wear them, but in concerts and sporting events, but our kids are sitting in their classrooms wearing them.” 

But mom Veronica Gathoni was in favor of the mandate.

“I was supporting that because it really helped, and it made the cases go down,” said Gathoni. “This is so divisive. No matter which way you decide, you were going to have a backlash.”

Outside of the now-expired mask requirement, the district received a lot of backlash for its COVID-19 protocols.

“Even before we were requiring masks, I was receiving emails daily from parents about ‘why are you not protecting my child?'” Grunewald said.

Some families even filed lawsuits claiming their children were excluded from school and activities because of quarantine protocols set by the district.

But the superintendent told KFOR the lawsuits had nothing to do with her decision.

“We don’t make decisions based on threats of lawsuits or lawsuits, and we make decisions based on data and what is best for students,” Grunewald said.

Grunewald said the district would continue to monitor cases with the help of the city-county and state health departments.

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