EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Edmond Public Schools changed from masks encouraged to masks required Thursday as the superintendent said cases in the district continue to rise.
The requirement goes into effect next Wednesday, Sept. 8, and will only last a little over a month. Some parents are upset by the decision but are able to opt out. The three exemption options are medical, religious or strong personal reasons for those adamantly against masks. We spoke to one parent who definitely plans to opt out. The superintendent of the district, though, said according to medical experts, some wearing masks is better than none.
“We are just doing what we can to keep our students safe,” said Angela Grunewald, Superintendent of Edmond Public Schools.
“There’s no end in sight, so we just need to knock it off, we just need to go back to normal,” said Ben Amato, a parent with two kids in the district.
Grunewald said cases have not dropped since their special board meeting last week.
“We see it go through specific classes or grades,” Grunewald said. “Even in one building, it’ll hit a class and then kind of spreads into that grade.”
In that meeting, the Edmond school board voted unanimously to designate power to the superintendent to make quick decisions amid the pandemic. Parents, at that point, were less than pleased.
“You violated state law!” said Don Spencer, who attended the meeting.
“That’s horrible,” another parent yelled at the meeting.
Over 380 students with positive cases plagued the district, along with 40 staff members. Now, those numbers are at 378 students with positive cases and 37 teachers. Grunewald said they may be close in number, but the second set of numbers is a second set of students and teachers.
“The numbers may be the same, but it’s different students,” she said. “Students stay on that list for their isolation period, 10 days, and then they come off.”
This week, an Oklahoma County District Court judge granted a temporary injunction against the state law prohibiting mask mandates in schools. Grunewald said masks have been a looming decision since the school year began.
“We were ready to do what we needed to do to keep our students safe,” Grunewald said.
“We’re getting vaccinated,” Amato said. “We’re doing what the CDC says. It’s time for kids to be kids.”
Amato has two sons, a 5th grader and a 7th grader, in the Edmond school district. He said he plans to opt them both out of wearing masks but worries about that situation.
“Is my son going to be asked to sit in this desk over here by himself because he’s not wearing a mask now?” Amato said. “Is my son going to be involved in the PE and recess and lunch?”
The mask requirement will be reviewed on Oct. 13 after the first nine weeks of school.
“Great school system, love this town,” Amato said. “But I just think it’s getting out of hand.”
“With masks, we can reduce our quarantine numbers and hopefully stop students from getting sick,” Grunewald said.
According to Grunewald, the district sent out a voluntary survey to their staff about vaccinations. Of the 60 to 70 percent of the staff that filled it out, Grunewald said about 80 percent of them reported being vaccinated.