(The Center Square) – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has issued a policy recommendation that would allow local schools to bypass mandatory quarantine regulations after known COVID-19 exposure.
Stitt feels the current school situation with children learning remotely is damaging, and with the right safety protocols, mandatory quarantine is not needed in all cases.
“Refusing to offer in-person school is jeopardizing our kids’ education; it’s jeopardizing teachers’ careers, and it’s jeopardizing the future of the State of Oklahoma,” he said, according to The Lawton Constitution.
Stitt proposes helping bolster student mental and educational health through measures including mask-wearing, social distancing and good physical hygiene. Schools that require masks will not have to quarantine students who have been exposed to the virus, unless they are showing symptoms.
This policy is limited to classroom learning and does not include mention of after-school activities or sports.
"Gov. Stitt’s proposal to waive the quarantine is based on pieces of a study that were done in conditions that are not comparable to the situation in Oklahoma," Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told The Center Square. "It does not meet the CDC guidelines for the current rates of high community spread in Oklahoma. Therefore, the OEA (Oklahoma Education Association) believes that it would not keep students nor staff safe, if enforced."
Stitt has not implemented a public mask mandate throughout the state. A requirement for bars to close at 11 p.m. to help slow the spread of the virus was recently enacted.
The governor is leaving the enforcement of this policy, and the option to implement best practices as advised by the CDC, up to the local school districts.
"The best way forward is for our governor to implement every strategy possible to mitigate the spread of COVID 19, including a statewide mask mandate. This is not, should not, be a political issue. It is about the health and safety of our communities," Priest said.