Districts Move Forward As SB 658 Faces Injunction, Second Hearing Set For Tuesday


Thursday, September 2nd 2021, 7:59 am
By: Jordan Dafnis


OKLAHOMA CITY -

The state department of education said it will not enforce a ban on school mask mandates in schools until legal action over the state law is resolved. 

This means school boards, which were limited by the law, can now choose to implement a mask requirement when the ruling goes into effect. It is expected to go into effect sometime in the next week. 

Some school districts, like Oklahoma City public schools, are already requiring masks based on the superintendent's power. 

An Oklahoma district court judge has now put SB 658 on hold temporarily. 

The judge ruled the school districts must include a way to opt-out of a mask mandate if they implement one. 

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said this first step in the legal battle will provide safe spaces for learning. 

 "Our districts had their hands untied to be able to deal with delta variant outbreaks and with their public health officials in order to safeguard kids," said Hofmeister. 

The U.S. Secretary of Education announced a civil rights investigation into the Oklahoma Department of Education over concerns of SB 658. 

They said this violates the rights of students with disabilities who may be at higher risk of complications due to COVID. 

U.S. Department of Education spokespeople said Tuesday that if OSDE doesn’t enforce the law, they may drop the civil rights investigation into the department, which is similar to how federal investigators have handled mask mandate bans in other states. 

As far as what is next, there will be another hearing on Tuesday where the motion for a temporary injunction will be evaluated by a different judge.