Local Officials Say Bill To Ban Mask Mandates From Public Entities, Schools Diminishes COVID Fight

Thursday, January 21st 2021, 6:30 pm
By: Anjelicia Bruton


The Oklahoma Education Association and the Oklahoma Municipal League said Senate Bill 352 would not be a step in the right direction as the state works to get back to how things were before the pandemic.

McCurtain Republican Warren Hamilton filed the legislation. Senate Bill 352 would ban public entities, like schools, from mandating vaccines or face coverings. Anyone who violates the proposal could face a misdemeanor charge.

Mike Fina with the Oklahoma Municipal League said the bill takes away local control, putting the state in an even worse position when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.

“Every community has been impacted differently. Oklahoma City, Tulsa some of the larger adjacent cities, because they were hit earlier. They had to take quicker measures than Stillwater and Norman. Those two communities had completely different issues,” Fina said.

Alicia Priest with the Oklahoma Education Association agreed. She said the bill is not helpful and puts them further away from getting to in-person learning anytime soon.

“Allowing districts and communities to have a mask mandate is the ultimate of local control which is what the governor was saying in his last conference.” Priest said. The locally elected school board making decisions in consultation with the city county health department looking at the rates of infections in their area and making decisions on health and safety of their community.”

Legislative session begins February 1.