Paycom chief executive officer Chad Richison had some pointed words for a recent state Senate bill passed and later signed by Governor Kevin Stitt regarding masks in Oklahoma schools.
Three days after health care officials updated the worsening COVID-19 crisis inside Oklahoma hospitals during a news conference, Richison stressed the importance of wearing masks to relieve any potential stress to health care workers and local schools.
“When people wear masks, it buys time for others to get vaccinated. So far this month, over 100,000 Oklahomans received vaccinations,” Richison’s statement read, in part.
Richison also expressed his disappointment over state Senate bill 658, which went into effect July 1.
"Unfortunately, a state law signed by Gov. Stitt last year, Senate Bill 658, took authority away from educational leaders to enact common-sense policies like requiring masks be worn,” Richison’s statement also said. “It is my hope that our state leadership will reverse this position and allow them to make decisions based on safety, science and organizational continuity. Our state leader has a duty to care and a duty to act in a way that protects Oklahomans, health care workers and institutions by allowing mask requirements in areas where they are necessary to slow the spread.”
While state Senate Bill 658 prohibits a district's school board from implementing a mask requirement, it does not outlaw a district superintendent from implementing a requirement.
Notably, Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel cited a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases as a reason for implementing a districtwide mask requirement. OKCPS' requirement, which also allows for an opt-out option for parents, went into effect Monday.
Richison ended his statement by advocating for school and community leaders to "enact reasonable prevention methods" to curb the spread of COVID-19.