owasso mask

An Owasso resident picks up food at Owasso High School as part of Owasso Public School’s free meal program during the COVID-19 pandemic in April. ART HADDAWAY/Owasso Reporter

Owasso Public Schools on Friday reversed its mask policy going into the 2020-21 school year.

The district will now require all fourth through 12th grade students to wear a mask or face covering while on buses and school grounds. Students in pre-K through third grade are encouraged but not mandated to follow suit.

OPS employees who are in school buildings with students will also be required to wear protective equipment, along with parents and visitors, whose time spent inside district sites will be limited.

Superintendent Amy Fichtner in an updated letter to parents published on the district’s website said her administration altered the previous plan, which only encouraged masks, based on the increased number of coronavirus cases as well as recommendations from local and state agencies.

“Deep consideration was given before we made this change,” Fichtner said in the letter. “Ultimately, it came down to the current situation in our area related to COVID-19 and the determination that it was wiser to err on the side of caution to protect the safety of our students and staff.”

The district’s first day of school is still set for Thursday, Aug. 13. There are no changes anticipated for daily class schedules, and there are also no planned closures, according to FAQs on the website.

Parents have the option to enroll their students in full-time virtual classes as an alternative to face-to-face instruction. On Friday, the decision was made to allow families to review their teaching method every nine weeks and make one change per semester. One virtual day is scheduled for all students on Friday, Sept. 4.