McAlester School District Updating Return Plan After Some Confusion


Thursday, August 5th 2021, 9:43 pm
By: Chinh Doan


MCALESTER, Oklahoma -

Some McAlester parents said they are confused, after the district published its return-to-school plan online. 

The plan stated masks are required, which is in violation of a new Oklahoma law that does not allow school districts to have mask mandates unless there is a state of emergency declared. 

The district told News On 6 it is required by law to have its plan posted, so it used last year’s information since the school board will not vote on this year’s plan until Aug. 9. 

Reed Marcum’s 4-H service project involves passing out more than 5,000 backpacks with school supplies to anyone who wants one. He is doing it in memory of Hudson Campbell, a boy who died a few years ago after battling cancer. 

The McAlester High School junior said he is also ready for whatever comes this school year.

“The mask situation, it doesn’t really bother me,” said Reed. “I’ll adjust to anything. If I have to wear it, I’ll wear it. If I don’t, I may.” 

On Monday, school board members will vote to update the district’s mask policy. 

Superintendent Randy Hughes said that will clarify any confusion from the plan that is on the district’s website, which states students, staff and visitors could be required to mask up.

“In order to get some of the grants, we had to turn in a return-to-learn plan,” explained Hughes. “So, we put that up with looking at, ‘Well, if we did get back to the orange level, upon board approval, we would mandate mask, and if it was red, we would do that.’” 

Hughes shared a letter and Facebook video last week to clarify. It said, “Masks will not be required unless there is an executive order signed by the governor.” 

The superintendent said he understands not everyone has the newest information and plans to give an update next week.

Reed’s step-dad, Mike Miller, said his family is ready to follow whatever policy that is in place.

“We trust that our school is going to do what it has to do to protect the kids,” said Miller. “Make sure everybody goes back safe.” 

Monday’s school board meeting is in person, and you can also watch it online here.

Anyone, no matter where they live, is invited to the Aug. 7 book bag giveaway in McAlester. 

There will also be brain cancer detection screenings and COVID-19 vaccinations at the event. 

For more information on the book bag giveaway, click here.