Local Health Leader Reacts After Some Oklahoma School Districts End Their Mask Mandates


Tuesday, April 6th 2021, 4:01 pm
By: Ashley Holden


As school districts start more in-person learning, others are getting rid of their mask mandates. 

Both Guthrie and Kingfisher public schools have dropped their requirement, citing low case numbers. 

This change started Tuesday for Kingfisher students and Monday in Guthrie. The switch covers wearing masks inside school building.

Local health leaders told News 9 they feel like this move is premature.

"(The) CDC recently released guidance that allowed schools to reduce some of the physically distancing requirements in schools, but that made the assumption that you continued mask mandates schools," said OU Health's Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler.

He said his main fear is kids bringing home the virus or spreading it to unvaccinated staff. 

Guthrie Public Schools would not do an interview about their change in policy, but the district did post a release to their Facebook page Friday. 

"Many protocols will remain in place such as assigned seating and vigilant sanitization," said Guthrie Superintendent Mike Simpson. "The only substantial difference in our setting from when we began the school year will be on school buses due to the recent federal mandate. This change doesn’t remove personal responsibility and an uptick would bring back the mask mandate." 

A letter from the Kingfisher Public Schools' Superintendent Jason Sternberger said they will support teachers that want to require students to wear masks in their classroom.

"If cases begin to spike upwards and any building had confirmed cases of 1% (four for Gilmour, KMS, KHS or two for Heritage), then the entire district will return to mandatory wearing of masks until the end of the year," Sternberger said.

Bratzler's advise to districts is to hold off as health officials continue to learn more about virus and more people get vaccinated, possibly even kids.

"Let's get through the spring semester, and then, let's get to the end of this school year and then reevaluate," Bratzler said. 

Bratzler said starting next school year without mask mandates in place could be possible based on the situation this summer. He said everyone will have to keep an eye on case numbers, variant numbers and hospitalizations. 

News 9 did reach out to numerous school districts across in the Oklahoma City metro to see if they have a mask mandate still in place or if they are considering reevaluating their plan. Some did not return News 9's request but every district that did reach back out had a mandate still in place, They said they were not considering a change at this time. 

OKCPS - MANDATE IN PLACE

Mustang - MANDATE IN PLACE

Edmond - MANDATE IN PLACE

Moore - MANDATE IN PLACE

Norman - Still waiting on response

Yukon - MANDATE IN PLACE