OEA President Alicia Priest responds
“The governor and his team have many of the same values as the educators who make up the OEA. We want what’s best for kids. We believe everyone should have a great public school no matter where they live. In-person learning is best for teachers and students. We can’t wait for COVID-19 to be completely gone before school goes back to normal.
“But the governor’s remarks are confusing.
“The governor says schools are safe, but what is he doing to ensure that? He calls for no quarantining when there is a mask policy but won’t demand strong mask policies. He cherry picks data instead of holistically tackling the pandemic. Even sources cited by the governor say that school buildings are no longer safe when community spread reaches dangerous levels.
“He preaches local control unless he disagrees with local choices. Local school boards, who listen to parents in their communities, are the decision makers for our Oklahoma schools.
“The governor says schools aren’t open, but where are all these schools that aren’t open? Many educators and support professionals have been battling the pandemic while teaching, feeding students, and keeping everyone safe. Burnout is real, and many have been sick. Some have died. Don’t accuse teachers of not trying when they are in the fire right now.
“Time is running out for our kids this school year. The governor needs to stop using his time dividing teachers and parents. His No. 1 priority should be mitigating the spread of the virus — not scapegoating local school boards, pitting parents against teachers, or avoiding responsibility.”