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Tags: oklahomo | school | mask | vaccine | mandates

Oklahoma Sued Over School Mask, Vaccine Mandate Ban

Oklahoma Sued Over School Mask, Vaccine Mandate Ban

By    |   Thursday, 12 August 2021 08:01 PM EDT

The state of Oklahoma was sued Thursday by a group of parents and the Oklahoma State Medical Association over the state's ban on mask and vaccine mandates in schools.

Senate Bill 658 was signed into law by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt in May. It prevents public schools and colleges in the state from putting mask or vaccination mandates into effect.

But the plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that the law is a "violation of Oklahoma children's rights to a free education in a safe environment," which violates the state's constitution, The Hill reported.

The lawsuit said that if the law is enforced, "many children will be deprived of this liberty without being afforded Due Process of Law, in that there is not rational basis for depriving them of the opportunity to learn in a classroom where feasible mitigation measures are being used — the same measures that are prohibited by Senate Bill 658."

"The Oklahoma State Medical Association is committed to better health for Oklahoma. It's even written into our mission statement," Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the association, said in a statement on Twitter regarding the lawsuit.

"With this in mind, we are glad to sign on to the lawsuit to vacate SB 658 and any action that prevents Oklahoma schools from enacting policies that could keep their students, teachers and staff safe and healthy," she said. "The science stands firmly behind vaccinations & masking as important tools in stopping the spread of COVID-19. As we are experiencing record numbers of children infected by the Delta variant and hospitals are stretched to capacity, we must do everything we can to keep Oklahoma's children safe."

The statement said that the lawsuit "is not a political stance; it is about public health and common sense. If schools can send students home for a lice infection, they should have the latitude and ability to issue a mask mandate."

Political or not, school mask mandates have become a hot-button issue across the country.

Houston's public schools were expected on Thursday to defy a state ban on mask mandates, joining other districts in Texas and Florida requiring face coverings in classrooms to fight a surge of COVID-19 infections, despite threats from state leaders.

The board of the Houston Independent School District was due to vote on a mask mandate on Thursday, flouting Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on such rules.

"The health and safety of our students and staff continues to be our guiding compass in all of our decisions," the district's superintendent, Millard House II, wrote in a statement.

The measure is likely to pass, with a majority of board members expressing support for the mandate, the Houston Chronicle reported.

With the start of the academic year coinciding with a dire new wave of COVID-19 cases, schools have quickly become the focal point of the nation's political fight over mask and vaccine mandates.

The threat by Florida to withhold the salaries of school officials who require masks has escalated tension between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

The White House is considering reimbursing Florida school officials if DeSantis, who is widely seen as weighing a potential 2024 challenge for the presidency, follows through on his threat.

Students and teachers across the United States are back in classrooms or about to start school this month as COVID-19 cases are surging at a pace not seen since the winter, with the delta variant driving up transmission and causing mostly the unvaccinated to get sick and die.

On Thursday, National Education Association President Becky Pringle, who leads the largest teachers union in the country, said she supported vaccine mandates for teachers. Her statement came on the heels of a similar announcement from the American Federation of Teachers' president earlier this week.

Several school districts in Arizona have required mask-wearing, despite a state law against such mandates. A group of Republican state lawmakers on Wednesday called on Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to withhold funds from districts that were enforcing the mandates, saying their noncompliance with state law "borders on anarchy."

Reuters contributed to this report.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The state of Oklahoma was sued Thursday by a group of parents and the Oklahoma State Medical Association over the state's ban on mask and vaccine mandates in schools.
oklahomo, school, mask, vaccine, mandates
Thursday, 12 August 2021 08:01 PM
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