State Superintendent Hofmeister Weighs In On Back To School Plans

Wednesday, July 14th 2021, 4:47 pm

Oklahoma schools are excited to get kids back into the classroom, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said.

Some schools have already come out with back to school plans, and the CDC released their guidance for vaccinated students and teachers on Friday.

In Oklahoma, school administrators are severely limited on what mitigation strategies they are able to mandate after the passing of a senate bill this spring, Hofmeister said.

“We certainly are talking with schools, and as the school year starts, we have a new law in place that was passed in the final days of the legislative session,” said Hofmeister.

Senate Bill 658, which took effect July 2, allows districts to only instate mask mandates if there is a local or state emergency order. The bill also doesn’t allow vaccines to be mandated.

“This is something that then falls to local health officials and pediatricians to make recommendations to families, and that is the most appropriate any way,” said Hofmeister.

The CDC has released its guidance for opening schools safely for the fall.

In that recommendation, the CDC mentioned those who are unvaccinated should wear masks inside school buildings.

Hofmeister was set to meet with CDC officials on Wednesday to talk about its guidance.

“We are putting together requests for clarification and listening to their recommendation to our questions,” said Hofmeister.

Hofmeister said they encourage mitigation efforts and can offer guidance to families to get the school year off to a safe start.

“We thought we were past this but it looks like it is certainly still here,” said Hofmeister. “We have to take it seriously, but learning should occur in open classrooms in our schools.”