State Superintendent Expects Board To Pass Mask Mandate

Thursday, July 23rd 2020, 4:39 am
By: Bonnie Campo

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she expects the Board of Education will pass a mask mandate at a Board of Education meeting Thursday morning. 

Hofmeister said the proposal is to protect both students and teachers when they return to the school.

If passed, younger children will still be able to remove their masks, when in their own classrooms.

Teachers will also have access to face shields and coverings. Hofmeister said that, along with social distancing and frequent hand washing gives schools the best outcome to remain open. However, it will be up to each district to monitor spread in their communities.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education will follow guidance from the health department's new color coded system.

“It's the bedrock of what we need to do," said Superintendent Hofemeister. “Masks are critical for keeping the spread contained.”

The State Superintendent said if a community experiences a spike in large cases, she anticipates that cases will spread into schools.

For those that elected to enroll their children in distance learning, Hofmeister said virtual learning will look much different than when the pandemic first hit.

First, teachers will be able to teach from a classroom.

Also, the state is creating a plan for children with limited internet access.

"The digital divide is real," Hofmeister said. “What we are doing is using some of the relief dollars that were granted to districts and the state department to help provide hot spots where there is not internet connectivity.”

As for the spread of COVID-19, Hofemeister is calling on Oklahomans to do their part to keep their own schools open.

She said that means taking the right precautions within communities.

The board meeting starts at 9 a.m.