Oklahoma City charter school district announces mask mandate despite Oklahoma law

OKLAHOMA CITY — A charter school district in the Oklahoma City metro announced they will be implementing a mask mandate, despite a new state law that prevents schools from doing so unless the governor declares a State of Emergency.

Santa Fe South Schools, a public charter school district, serves students from Pre-K through 12th grades.

Chris Brewster, the district’s superintendent, said in a letter to the community that as of Thursday, masks will be required for all students and staff while at school or at school-related activities, whenever indoors and in close contact (within three to five feet for more than 15 minutes.)

Currently, House Bill 658 prevents school districts from mandating masks or COVID-19 vaccines unless Gov. Kevin Stitt declares a State of Emergency. Stitt recently said that he does not plan to do so.

Exemptions will be made only for those who have documentation from a physician stating that wearing a mask is not recommended for that person, the district’s superintendent said in the letter.

The letter states that the requirement will also apply for all guests on campus and at all activities and events.

“We will strictly enforce this at all times. Again, this is a requirement, and should not be considered optional for anyone at any time, unless they have confirmation from their physician that mask-wearing is not required,” Brewster said in the letter.

Students or parents who refuse will be offered the opportunity to receive online instruction, Brewster said.

“I have carefully considered the ramifications of both requiring masks and in not requiring them. I am aware that I am personally responsible for either decision. Among many reasons for requiring masks is that we have a number of immune-compromised students and staff who must be protected. We even have several of our most precious ones, those on IEP’s and the very youngest, who have very little personal protection against the virus,” Brewster said in the letter. “If this decision keeps a single member of our community from suffering serious health issues or death, it is worth it a thousand times over.”

Read the full letter here.