Doctors Say State Board Of Education Putting Students, Staff At Risk

Friday, July 24th 2020, 4:43 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The state Board of Education voted against mask requirements and a delay in the start of school, opting instead for a few recommendations for schools. 

Doctors said the board didn’t go far enough, and that puts lives at risk.

“The protocol is as a recommendation to districts. There is no safety requirement of schools,” state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said after the meeting.

The state Board of Education voted Thursday to recommend masks and an alert system to close down schools should cases of COVID-19 continue to increase. They stopped short of mandating action, instead leaving it up to individual districts to make their own policies.

“We desperately need the state to step up and give us some basic guidelines. Now every district is going to be different, what their needs are, but there are some basic guidelines,” said Dr. Dwight Sublett of the Oklahoma chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics. “Kids in elementary school on up and school personnel need to be masked. It’s important that we try to isolate the children in the classroom, what we call cohorting, and the less moving around the building the better.”

Doctors said that means lunch should be served in classrooms and teachers should move from class to class, not students.

Doctors said we should hold off on starting school statewide until Oklahoma sees a reduction in COVID-19 cases.

“There should be great guidance from both our state Board of Education, our state health department, and the leadership in the government to provide us evidence based guidelines in regards to when to open,” said Dr. Steven Crawford of Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians.

“Let's put the brakes on a little bit. Let’s get this right,” Sublett said. “I truly feel that we are putting or students, our teachers, our administrators at undue risk, and that’s not worth it. It’s just not worth it.”