Sept. 15, 2021

With Law On Hold, Some Schools Implement Mask Mandates

Fernando Rojas, a senior at Harding Charter Preperatory High School in Oklahoma City, paints at his desk on May 11, 2021. The school returned to in-person learning in April after the Coronavirus pandemic caused the school to go virtual. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

Good morning, readers. An Oklahoma County District judge’s temporary suspension of part of a new state law effectively outlawing school mask mandates went into effect last week. About 20 public school districts have now implemented universal masking according to State Impact Oklahoma, including Edmond, Noble, Putnam City, Mid-Del and Yukon.

Also:

• Oklahoma’s attorney general appealed the judge’s decision.

• Similar laws in other states have also been suspended in court (the most recent is Iowa.)

In one Texas town, a mask mandate wasn’t implemented until after two junior high teachers died (you can read this Washington Post story about it). Like Oklahoma, Texas started the school year with a statewide ban on mask mandates.

Oklahoma teachers and school staff are now experiencing breakthrough coronavirus infections despite taking their own precautions — my story on that to come later this week. As always, story ideas, tips, questions or concerns welcome via email or @jpalmerOKC on Twitter. Have a good week.

— Jennifer Palmer

What I’m Reading

  • A teacher’s aide in Yukon died Sunday after contracting COVID-19. [KOCO]
  • Two Statewide Virtual Charter School Board members have resigned unexpectedly. Both have been criticized over their connections to Epic Charter Schools, which the board oversees. [The Oklahoman]
  • The State Department of Education will invest $8 million of its federal relief funding in a plan to retain teachers and improve school leadership. [Examiner-Enterprise]
  • The schools where battles over critical race theory are brewing are also diversifying the most rapidly. [NBC News]

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