OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A group of Oklahoma teachers have now started a petition, hoping to get a new law prohibiting schools from requiring masks, unless the governor declares a state of emergency, repealed.
“I just don’t think it should be a state decision for mask requirements because you know, different areas in Oklahoma will have different infection rates,” Marissa Allen, an Oklahoma elementary school teacher, told News 4.
That’s why Allen started a petition last week, hoping to get a new state law repealed because it restricts school districts from requiring masks unless the governor declares a state of emergency.
“I mean we want them to stay healthy but also, what I don’t think some parents understand is if kids do start getting sick, then we’re going to have to start transitioning back to distance learning,” Allen said.
Allen’s district has been back at school for two days now and she said on the first day, about 50% of the students were wearing masks.
On the second day, she said the number of masked students dropped significantly.
She also told KFOR that other schools in her district are already dealing with COVID-19-related absences.
“As of the first day of school, a kid wasn’t feeling well. So they sent him home and then he tested positive later on in the day,” Allen said. “They’re already having to do some contract tracing. So, that is concerning.”
Some local doctors are also concerned.
“We’re seeing more COVID than we did last year for sure of kids being hospitalized and previously healthy kids requiring oxygen,” Dr. Donna Tyungu, Pediatric Infectious Diseases specialist with OU Health, said.
That’s why Dr. Tyungu said masking in schools is crucial right now.
“I know teacher can’t encourage people to wear their masks, I guess because of the situation that we’re in but I did hear from a family member today that a teacher passed my niece in a hallway and told her you know you don’t have to wear that mask here,” Said Dr. Tyungu. “I would encourage everyone to not discourage masks.”
Governor Stitt has said he is not planning on declaring a state of emergency.
His office told News 4 a few weeks ago that is because “one is not needed.” They had no further comment on Thursday.
“We’re seeing the rise in pediatric cases and it just shows that this is really a health issue. It’s not a political issue and we need to do something to keep these kids safe and in school,” Allen said.