OEA Joins “MASK” Coalition, Seeks Statewide Mask Policy for In-School Learning

The Oklahoma Education Association joined a diverse group of organizations today advocating for children, education, and health care and calling for a statewide mask rule for in-school learning.

The group – Masks Are Saving Kids (MASK) – was organized by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. Other members are Oklahoma PTA, Oklahoma State Medical Association, and the Oklahoma Chapter American Academy of Pediatricts.

During a remote press conference today (Nov. 5), MASK called for the Oklahoma State Board of Education to reconsider its action to not adopt a mask policy for in-school learning.

You can read the MASK media release here.

Following is OEA President Alicia Priest’s comments from the media conference:

Our teachers and support professionals have faced this pandemic with passion and perseverance. School is happening every day because Oklahoma teachers will move mountains to give our kids what they need.  

COVID-19 is beating down our doors, but our children need to learn to read and solve equations and create art and prepare for college. Our children need to play in ball games and show cattle and sing in the choir. 

Teachers and support staff are working on the front lines to deliver the best education during the pandemic of a lifetime. 

We want to work. We want to be safe. 

We ask the Oklahoma State Board of Education to require masks in schools during in-person learning. 

Masks have become political footballs. We’re used to that in education. Politics can get in the way of doing simple things that are good for kids. 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We know masks slow the spread of COVID-19. Our own state epidemiologist, appointed by our governor, proved that communities with mask mandates have slower spread. Masks work. 

Since the State Board of Education voted against masks, nearly 100,000 Oklahomans have tested positive for COVID-19. Nearly 1,000 Oklahomans have died from the virus.

Oklahomans like Laurie Cochran, a fourth grade teacher in Oklahoma City. Teresa Horn, a special education teacher at Tahlequah High School and Jessie Wharry a teacher in Idabel

And there are more. 

This issue isn’t theoretical. And it’s certainly shouldn’t be political. It is about the health and safety of our students and staff and the families they go home to.

I want to remind the State Board of Education that it’s never too late to do the right thing. Be leaders our children need. Show up for them. Show up for their families. Show up for the state you serve. Pass a mask mandate.  

Come Back Safely

Oklahoma schools need to be able to come back safely. What will that take? Learn more here.