Edmond Parents, Expecting Mask Requirement, Protest School Board Action

Friday, August 27th 2021, 10:37 pm

EDMOND, Oklahoma -

The Edmond Public Schools’ board voted to grant authority to its superintendent to change COVID-19 protocols, a move that a group of parents worry will lead to a district-wide mask requirement. 

“We believe that this was to circumvent (Senate Bill 658), which was to prevent mask mandates, prevent vaccine mandates,” said Oklahoma Sen. Jake Merrick of District 22 after the meeting. 

Senate Bill 658 prohibits school boards from imposing vaccination or masking requirements among students and staff. 

Some districts have since imposed masking requirements with opportunities for families to opt-out, the legality of which has created a split among lawmakers, the governor and the state attorney general

EPS superintendent Angela Grunewald did not make any changes to the district’s COVID-19 protocols immediately following the board’s vote.

“The reason for this is sometimes decisions need to be made quickly, and this would just allow us to do so if needed,” Grunewald said during the meeting. 

The board did not take public comment Friday. Several parents yelled throughout the meeting, some calling the board “tyrants” and “communists.” 

Related: Edmond Public Schools Changes Protocol, Will Require Quarantines After COVID Exposures

“I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen Monday or Tuesday,” Grunewald said. “I can tell you we will always make decisions based on input from the Oklahoma City-County Health Department and decisions on what we feel will keep our students in school.” 

COVID-19 cases have increased this week, according to EPS reports

Between Tuesday and Friday, the total number of active cases among students and staff went up from 298 to 424. 

“We never experienced the number of cases last year that we are experiencing now,” Grunewald said. 

There is a legal battle in Oklahoma County District Court regarding SB658, which is being defended by the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s Office. 

“Our office is currently defending the state law in Oklahoma County. We have a hearing next week on the case and our attorneys are looking forward to making their arguments in the future,” said Alex Gerszewski, communications director for the AGO. “Once the case is fully litigated, we are sure that Oklahoma City Public Schools and other schools across the state will comply with the ruling—rather than lawlessly defy both the legislature and the courts.”