Starting Tuesday, students at Western Heights Public Schools will have a new face mask requirement.
All students, staff and visitors will be required to wear a mask in schools, even if they are vaccinated.
This ruling carries a different weight, considering the district is currently being overseen by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
Western Heights Interim Superintendent Monty Guthrie notified families of the requirement on Monday in a letter.
The mask requirement extends to school vehicles and at school sponsered events.
Guthrie said this is in an effort to keep students in the classroom.
Just like Oklahoma City Public Schools, parents can opt their children out for medical, religious or strong personal reasons.
Exemption requests must be submitted in writing by the parent or guardian.
You can read Interim Superintendent Guthrie’s letter to parents below.
"Dear Western Heights Families and Staff, One of the biggest priorities as an educator and a district leader is the health and safety of the students and staff. As a new variant of COVID-19 grows, especially among the youngest in our community, it is time for us to do as much as we possibly can to protect those who learn and work within our district. Today, I’ve made the decision to require face masks to be worn on school property, in school vehicles, and at school-sponsored events regardless of vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students (age 2 and older), and visitors to K-12 schools. While Senate Bill 658 prohibits school boards from mandating the wearing of masks, the law does not prohibit the Superintendent and district administration from requiring mask be worn by our students, staff, and visitors. Therefore, starting on August 24, 2021, all Western Heights students, staff, and visitors must wear a face mask that covers both the nose and mouth strictly as provided below: 1. Masks are required to be worn by all Western Heights students, employees, parents/legal guardians, and visitors while on school property, in school vehicles, and at school-sponsored events regardless of vaccination status. 2. Masks will be provided, when available. 3. It is the mask wearer’s own responsibility to wear, re-use and clean masks according to CDC guidelines. 4. Masks may be removed only (1) when alone in an enclosed private workspace and (2) while participating in activities in which a face mask cannot practically be worn, such as while eating and drinking. When a mask is removed, it is critical that a physical distance of at least six feet be observed, whenever possible. If a parent, legal guardian or eligible student indicates that compliance with mask use is not possible due to medical, religious or strong personal reasons, exemption requests must be submitted in writing. If an employee cannot comply due to medical reasons, the employee should be referred to Human Resources to request accommodations on the basis of disability. This regulation is subject to change as new or different federal, state, and local guidance may become available. While this time is full of the unknowns, one thing is for sure: our students learn better when they are in the classroom. If we all come together to do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we will have a more successful school year. If you can, please wear a mask and get vaccinated if you are eligible. Thank you for your dedication to Western Heights."