Tulsa Public School students will go back to class in two weeks on Thursday, August 19. The 2021-2022 school year will be different from the previous year in that students will return to in-person learning five days a week.
But ahead of the new school year, Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist took to Facebook Monday, August 2, saying she wants everyone to wear a mask while at school. "Our expectation is that every adult and student, regardless of vaccination status, wears a mask at all times indoors and outdoors when in the presence of others," the post said.
However, Dr. Gist nor the Tulsa Public School district has the authority to ask students and staff to wear a mask. That authority lies with Governor Kevin Stitt, who must first declare a state of emergency. As of Tuesday, August 3, the governor has not declared one.
This comes after a new state law, which passed in May, says Oklahoma schools and universities cannot enforce masks or require COVID-19 vaccinations.
Some parents are praising the Facebook post made by Tulsa's superintendent, saying, "This will keep thousands safe." But others feel differently, with one man posting, "You can't mandate masks." However, TPS responded to that comment by saying, "Masks are not required."
The district also said 17,200 of its students are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. But for those that are eligible, the district is encouraging them to get vaccinated before going back to school.
The post from Superintendent Gist comes as Democrats in the Oklahoma House are calling for a special session to repeal Senate Bill 658. The bill prevents local school districts from implementing their own individual mask policies.
To read the full post from Tulsa Public Schools, Click Here.
To read Senate Bill 658, Click Here.