State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on Sunday urged Oklahomans to wear masks for the sake of school in light of the state’s first reported COVID-19-related death of a school-aged child.
In a statement, Hofmeister urged all Oklahomans to do their part to contain the spread of coronavirus in light of the “tragic milestone” and to give public education a chance come fall.
“This heartbreaking tragedy underscores how important it is for us all to wear masks when in public, follow social distancing guidelines and practice good hygiene,” she said in a news release.
“Students need to learn. We want schools to reopen this fall, but for that to happen, it is critical that Oklahomans take decisive actions now to mitigate spread of the virus.
“Wearing a mask around other people is a small sacrifice for the sake of literally saving lives. We owe it to our children, teachers and staff for them to be able to go to school knowing that strong safeguards are in place for their safety and well-being.”
Although some parents might find distance learning preferable to in-building, Hofmeister said students suffered “significant learning loss” from the building closures this past spring, presenting a precarious balance.
“School is vital,” she said. “At the same time, we must take every precaution to protect our children and those who serve in schools across this state.