The mask policy is changing for the Bixby school district.
Starting Monday, Bixby Public Schools will no longer require students in Pre-K through 6th grade to wear a mask in class. Instead, teachers will decide the mask guidelines for their own classrooms.
"We have made the decision to modify our masking protocols," said Superintendent Rob Miller.
Miller says this decision comes as about 70 percent of teachers and staff are fully vaccinated. He says the change is just for pre-k through 6th because COVID case numbers are historically lower for younger students and documented cases have shown potential health impacts to be minimal.
"We really believe that the teachers have the best knowledge to safely and effectively manage their classroom environments," Miller said.
He said that means some teachers can still require masks in their classrooms if they want to.
Reactions from parents are mixed. Alexis Johnson wants the district to take it a step further and says now that teachers are vaccinated, why make kids wear a mask at all.
"I think it should be up to the parents to decide if the children wear a mask at this point," Johnson said.
Other parents took to social media saying they're worried this decision will cause fighting among students and teachers and don't understand why we're rehashing masks in schools in mid-April, with just over a month of school left.
"My response to that would be why not, because, throughout the last 13 months, we have told parents that we are making decisions based on data," said Superintendent Miller.
Miller said masks will still be required while on school transportation, during arrival and dismissal, and at other times during the school day where large numbers of students are traveling between classes and social distancing is not possible.
In his letter to families on Wednesday, Miller said, “it is important to recognize that a sizable number of teachers still have valid concerns about their health and that of their students. As a result, we will support whatever decision the teacher makes relative to masks in his or her classroom. I respectfully ask our parents to honor our educators’ decisions as well.”
Miller said he's confident numbers won't spike again in these grade levels, but he said if that does happen, it will be easy to make masks mandatory again.
To read Miller’s full letter, click here.