Months ago, the Oklahoma State Board of Education rejected a mask mandate, and now, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is pushing back and wants the board to reconsider.
Joe Dorman with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy said COVID cases are spiking with the flu and cold season, and to make it worse, many
Oklahoma public schools are headed back to in-person classrooms without a mask mandate.
"We've continued class shutdown and schools have had to send people home for 14 days. We've had to see teachers take sick leave because they've been exposed,” Dorman said.
The OICA is asking for the state Board of Education to reverse its stance after rejecting a mask mandate.
"This is putting at risk and jeopardizing not only the health and lives and teachers and personals at schools but also the parents and grandparents,” Dorman said.
"Masks unfortunately have become political footballs," said Alicia Priest, Oklahoma Education Association president.
The group bought billboards and even started a petition for the mandate on Change.org.
Dr. Dwight Sublett of the American Academy of Pediatrics is supporting the mandate and said hospitals are already filling up.
"Our hospitals here in November are full, particularly our ICUs," he said.
To make it worse, Sublett said children can easily be super-spreaders, silently caring the virus.
"Yes, the children's disease tends to less severe, but that doesn't change the possibility of infectivity," he said.
Alison Taylor with the Oklahoma PTA said the virus could then be easily spreading it to Oklahoma's most vulnerable population.
"We are #9 in the states with grandparents raising children,” she said.
"We're asking for the state Board of Education to put aside politics, let's do what's right for our kids, the family members and the educators and school personal. Let's put a mask policy in place,” Dorman said.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said in a statement, “I urge you to make your voice heard. If an adequate mask requirement is not already in place, let your school board representative know you and your children deserve this protection.”