SAND SPRINGS — The Sand Springs City Council voted unanimously Monday night to repeal the city’s mask mandate, in place since Nov. 23.
An emergency clause, which will take effect within days — as soon as the council’s order is published — also passed, but not without dissent. The vote was 5-2, with Vice Mayor Patty Dixon and Councilor Brian Jackson voting no.
Dixon told councilors that she had heard from a number of her constituents who wanted the mandate kept in place because of confusion about the city’s potentially having one set of rules and the school district’s having another set of guidelines.
Jackson said he was not opposed to lifting the mandate but without the emergency clause so that the mandate would remain in place through the end of the school year.
He noted that the council took the wishes of vendors at Herbal Affair into consideration by leaving the mandate in place through that April 17 event.
“My sticking point is the emergency clause,” Jackson said. “Let’s just let this ride out — in the event this passes, the repeal — 30 days taking effect, I believe that ends consistently. I think it shows leadership.”
Councilor Beau Wilson pointed out that Sand Springs Public Schools is governed by its own elected board, which could retain a mask mandate through the school year’s end if it so chooses.
City Manager Mike Carter presented the proposal to lift the mandate and its emergency clause to the council.
Carter, who has been the city’s point person on COVID-19, said case numbers, once in the 360s, have fallen to double digits, with 56 active cases last week.
He noted that all other communities in the area have repealed or are in the process of repealing similar ordinances, but he also made the point that 3,268 Sand Springs residents — 16.42% of the population — have been infected with the coronavirus and that 65 residents have died from it.
“If anyone wants to make the case that this has not been a serious event, if we would have 65 people from Sand Springs die in any other manner, there would be outrage,” Carter said.
“We still have some concern that COVID could come back with a vengeance,” he said, adding, “We will continue to monitor the levels of COVID infection in our community, and if appropriate, we won’t be shy about bringing back a recommendation to look at other measures if we see an increase.”