Oklahoma divorced couple in battle over sending kids to in-person classes

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TUTTLE, Okla. (KFOR) — Two parents – a divorced couple – are finding themselves in a battle they didn’t foresee coming: whether or not their children should go to school virtually or stay in the classroom.

Wednesday was the first day of in-person classes at Tuttle Public School District. Brandon Horton did not want his three youngest kids, ages ten, eight, and six, inside those classrooms, calling it unsafe for them since they’re unvaccinated. 

He said his ex-wife, Jill Horton, made the kids attend the in-person classes because she doesn’t want the children learning virtually.

“COVID case numbers are out of hand,” he said. “I don’t want any of them going who are not vaccinated until they are fully protected with the vaccination, especially since the schools have no mitigation, no [mask mandates] in place,” he said.

Brandon doesn’t understand Jill’s thinking.

“It’s just unfathomable to me that someone who got their associates in nursing and is working at a local hospital now chooses to not be vaccinated and chooses to put the health and safety of her own children at risk when there’s always another option,” he said.

KFOR spoke with Jill’s lawyer, Jerry Day, on Wednesday. He said the parents have joint custody of the kids, so no one gets ultimate say of whether the kids do in-person or virtual classes.

He said Jill believes the kids will be safe at school, as long as they wear masks. She also believes they’ll get a better education, as she was not satisfied with their performances in virtual classes in Spring 2021. Day also pointed out that neither parent has primary custody of the children and that there are two sides to this story.  

Brandon said he’s especially dumbfounded at how she’s willing to send their 5th grader – who is immunocompromised with PFAPA (Periodic Fever, Aphthous Stomatitis, Pharyngitis, Adenitis) – to school.

“There’s limited studies on it, so we don’t know how this would interact with the COVID and if it’s going to put her at more harm, at more risk, or not,” he explained.

According to Canadian County Judge Barbara Hatfield’s order, the kids are to do in-person classes if available at Tuttle Public Schools. Day explained the order is from back in June. 

There is formal hearing on the matter with both sides on August 24, in which Judge Hatfield reserves the ability to maintain, modify, or terminate the order.

KFOR reached out to Judge Hatfield for an interview or statement, but she would not provide comment.

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