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Area school districts: No immediate changes after court ruling on school masks
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Area school districts: No immediate changes after court ruling on school masks

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TPS Mask

Students and parents gather at the end of the school day at Council Oak Elementary School.

Despite an Oklahoma County District Court ruling, several area school districts indicated Wednesday that they will not be changing their mask policies overnight.

When reached Wednesday afternoon, representatives for Bartlesville, Jenks, Sand Springs and Union all said their districts need additional time to read and review Judge Natalie Mai’s temporary injunction order before considering any action regarding their policies on face coverings.

Mai held Wednesday morning that Senate Bill 658 creates an unconstitutional divide by prohibiting public schools from enacting mask mandates while allowing private schools to do so, even though both types of schools include people equally at risk of contracting COVID-19.

The temporary injunction will not take effect until the written order is filed. Any school district that implements a mask mandate while the litigation is pending must provide for exemptions.

In a letter to parents, Collinsville Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Hogan said his district would not be changing its policy at this time either since the injunction is not permanent.

“It is unknown how long this temporary injunction will be in place, as it could last a few days, a few months or longer,” he wrote. “The court must still conduct a full hearing and any final ruling is subject to review by an appellate court.”

Representatives for both Owasso and Tulsa also confirmed that their districts’ mask policies will not be immediately changing due to Wednesday’s temporary injunction.

Citing a surge in COVID-19 cases, TPS announced Thursday that students will wear masks in buildings starting Tuesday unless they have a written, approved exemption form on file with the district. A similar policy took effect for district employees on Monday.

“We are aware of today’s court decision and will continue to understand the intersection between the law and our safety protocols,” TPS’ statement read in part. “At Tulsa Public Schools, masks will be worn by all individuals except those with approved exemptions. Our district remains confident that our mask protocol complies with the law.”

Featured video:

Aug. 9, 2021 video. Tulsa Health Department's Bruce Dart addressed media about COVID-19 concerns during a Zoom call

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My primary beat is public education. I am a third-generation graduate of Oklahoma State University, a board member for Oklahoma SPJ and an active member of the Native American Journalists Association.

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