Judge grants temporary injunction as Oklahoma parents, doctors fight anti-masking law in schools

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As hospitals across the state continue to struggle amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some people are turning their focus to an Oklahoma law that prevents school districts from implementing mask mandates on campus.

Senate Bill 658 prohibits Oklahoma schools from requiring students and staff to a wear a face mask unless Gov. Stitt issues a state of emergency due to the pandemic.

Last month, the Oklahoma State Medical Association and parents of public school students filed an injunction to stop the measure.

The lawsuit states that they want schools to be able to require masks in order to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 and protect students and staff members from the virus.

Some of the parents included in the lawsuit say their children are immunocompromised and they are concerned about their safety in the classroom due to the measure.

People stand outside the courthouse, protesting SB 658

On Wednesday, the case was heard at the Oklahoma County Courthouse.

The court granted the temporary injunction against SB 658, but it doesn’t go into effect until Sept. 8.

“We are pleased with the outcome of today’s hearing; however, this is just a first step in ensuring our schools maintain local control and can choose the best path for their students, faculty and staff. It’s important to remember that while we’ve seen how easily COVID can spread in schools, the virus doesn’t stay within the school walls. For each infected student, there is a risk of additional infections amongst their friends, family and the community. We must all do our part to keep the community safe. This includes allowing our schools and businesses the freedom to develop mitigation efforts that can slow the spread of this terrible virus,” said Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. Mary Clarke.

On Twitter, Gov. Stitt said the ruling was about parental choice.

“Today’s ruling on SB 658 in Oklahoma District Court is a victory for parental choice, personal responsibility and the rule of law. I have been clear from the beginning that parents should have the right to make decisions about the health and education of their children.”

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister released the following statement:

“Today is a victory for families, the safeguarding of schoolchildren and their opportunity to learn in-person. The court’s striking of the mask mandate prohibition on SB 658 now enables schools to fulfill their duty to protect and ensure equal protection for all students, including those with disabilities and most vulnerable in our schools. We are pleased the judge granted a temporary injunction on SB 658 regarding mask mandates. The Oklahoma State Department of Education will not enforce the mask mandate prohibition due to this pending litigation. Further guidance will be provided once the litigation concludes.”

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