Update: This story was updated to include a statement from a state lawmaker.
HULBERT, Okla. (KFOR) – Another Oklahoma school district has made the decision to require masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 after being forced to go virtual earlier this week due to the number of quarantining students.
Last week, Oklahoma City Public Schools announced that a mask requirement would go into effect after seeing a dramatic increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the district within the first week.
On Monday, Hulbert Public Schools announced that Hulbert middle and high school students are moving to distance learning through Thursday, Aug.19.
Officials said the move was necessary because the number of students that are quarantining due to close contact exposure caused the absence rate to exceed 25% of the student population.
Effective today, the Hulbert Board of Education voted to require masks for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
Officials say accommodations are available for those with medical exceptions, and they are listed in the school’s Return to Learn plan.
However, Gov. Kevin Stitt and Attorney General John O’Connor are speaking out against the board’s decision.
“It is disappointing that one school district has chosen to openly violate a state law that was supported by 80 percent of the Legislature. The goal of SB658 was to ensure every student in Oklahoma could go to school in person and parents retained the fundamental right to make health care decisions for their children. To be clear, no parent is banned from sending their child to school with a mask and no school may mandate masks or vaccines. I will always stand up for parents’ right to decide what is best for their child,” said Governor Stitt.
“We are vigorously defending SB658 in court because it is plainly constitutional and helps protect the choices of students and parents. Under the new law, public school boards cannot implement a mask mandate, unless certain conditions are met, including that the school district be in an area under a current state of emergency declared by the Governor. Under our constitution, the Legislature gets to set the policy of the state—especially on controversial issues like this—and schools should not be actively trying to undermine our constitutional structure of government by violating duly-enacted state law,” said Attorney General O’Connor.
Late Thursday afternoon, State Rep. Monroe Nichols released the following statement.