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MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Just weeks after voting to require masks in class, the Mid-Del Public School District Board of Education reversed the mandate Monday.

District students and staff are no longer required to wear masks. They’re only now encouraged to wear them. 

Out of the five board members, three voted to lift the mandate and two abstained from voting.

“The reality is that the longer we have the mask mandate in place, the more people we’ll have opting out and the less effective it’ll be as a mitigation strategy,” said Superintendent Rick Cobb.

He said about 5% of students had opted out of it and the mandate had become hard to enforce.

When it was implemented on Sept. 7, the district was seeing over 100 new COVID cases a week, according to Cobb. Now, the weekly number is in the twenties. 

Cobb also announced the end of contact tracing and universal mandatory quarantining.

“[It was] causing hundreds and hundreds of student quarantines, and what we’re still finding is that with the number of students we were quarantining, we have a lot of not sick people missing school and that’s not helpful to anybody,” Cobb said.

Cobb said the only students that will now be forced to quarantine are those with a known positive COVID test.

Some teachers in attendance expressed dissatisfaction at the new policies, but Cobb stood firm.

“There are staff that aren’t comfortable with what we’re doing and no matter what we change, there will be staff uncomfortable with that, too,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a solution that will make all people equally comfortable.”

While only students who test positive will have to quarantine, Cobb said they’ll likely notify parents when someone in their child’s class has tested positive.

Parents then retain the option of quarantining their child, but it’s not required.

The district will reinstate a mask mandate and mandatory quarantines if the number of positive COVID-19 cases increase and exceed .5% of the total population of students and staff for two consecutive weeks.