5 Percent Of Union Students Opt-Out As Mask Mandate Begins

Wednesday, September 15th 2021, 6:07 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

TULSA, Oklahoma -

About five percent of students at Union Public Schools are opting out of the mask requirement that went into effect Wednesday.

Students and their parents were given three different choices to opt out of wearing a mask.  

Inside Union High School, thousands of students were masked up for the first day of the district's mandate. But more than 100 students opted out.  

Union spokesperson Chris Payne said across the district about five percent of students are not wearing masks.  

"I think we're pretty pleased that it's that low because you know, our goal is to have as many people masked as possible to try to prevent the spread of COVID,” Payne said.  

Students and their parents had three reasons to choose from if they did not want to wear a mask at school.  Of the 742 who have opted out so far, the district said most cited they had a "strongly held personal reason." The rest chose either a medical or religious reason.  

College Advisor Chanda Gibson sees students every day and said she has already noticed a slight difference in mask wearing. 

"I noticed students stepping out of their parents' vehicle, putting on the mask before they walk in, which, that's very good,” Gibson said.  

Payne said the peak number of COVID-19 cases last school year was 118, and that number has already been surpassed this year.  

"Just last week we hit 181 cases, so well above what we had the year before. Which makes us feel like this mask mandate really is in the nick of time,” Payne said.  

The district also said more than 100 staff members are opting out of wearing a mask, including 55 teachers.