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Claremore Public Schools to consider mask policy
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Claremore Public Schools to consider mask policy

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Another Tulsa-area school district is considering requiring masks due to climbing COVID-19 case numbers.

Claremore Public Schools’ Board of Education has called a special meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday to vote on a new mask requirement policy.

In a video posted Friday, Superintendent Bryan Frazier said Claremore Public Schools has already had 127 students test positive for COVID-19 this school year. That’s 61% of the number of student cases reported during the entire 2020-2021 school year.

Claremore’s four elementary schools have already reported equal or greater case numbers from the previous school year, Frazier noted in the video.

“This is a much different virus, and we’re in a much different situation than we were a year ago,” he said.

Claremore’s first day of school was Aug. 12.

According to data published by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, there are 355 active cases of COVID-19 in Claremore.

Thursday’s vote is possible due to a temporary injunction issued by Oklahoma County District Judge Natalie Mai that took effect Wednesday. That injunction blocks enforcement of some of the provisions of Senate Bill 658, which prohibits public school districts from requiring masks on campus unless a state of emergency is declared by the governor.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has said publicly multiple times that he has no intention of making such a declaration.

The temporary injunction allows districts to require masks as long as they provide some of the same exemptions that are already in place for school vaccinations. They include religious and medical grounds.

Along with Dove Charter Schools’ two Tulsa campuses and the Cherokee Nation’s immersion charter school, other area public school districts already requiring masks on campus include Briggs, Glenpool, Hulbert, Jenks, Keys, McAlester, Ponca City, Tahlequah and Tulsa. Union’s mask requirement for students and staff goes into effect at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

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Dr. Woody Jenkins of Stillwater said about one-third of their ICU nurses have left in just the past few months: "I want to let you know that our staff is physically exhausted, emotionally spent and psychologically impacted."

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I am a third-generation graduate of Oklahoma State University and a board member for both Oklahoma SPJ and the Native American Journalists Association. When not chasing stories, I'm usually chasing my children or our pets.

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