State Superintendent Hofmeister reacts to injunction blocking state law which banned mask mandates

Declaring the ruling a “victory for Oklahoma families,” she said OSDE will not enforce Senate Bill 658, allowing schools to mandate masks effective immediately

Justice

TULSA — Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says an injunction issued Tuesday, which blocked a controversial law passed by the state legislature, is a “great victory today for Oklahoma families, (and) the safeguarding of school children.”

Senate Bill 658, signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt in May, forbade school districts from mandating the wearing of masks, barring an emergency declaration issued by the governor.

Hofmeister said Tuesday she understands that the law was passed at a time when it appeared the pandemic might have been waning, before the current onslaught of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

“When the legislature passed this, they were doing so at a time where it did appear that we had turned a corner, and more people were taking vaccines, and we saw a real decrease, a plummeting, of the numbers of COVID-positive cases.”

That, she said, is clearly no longer the case.

“A lot has changed since then,” she told KRMG. “Unfortunately, we are in a place where the Delta variant is raging in our state, and 25% of all cases are pediatric cases, 5 to 17.”

All along, however, she has questioned the wisdom of the legislature essentially tying the hands of school districts with respect to health and safety.

“I wanted that law stricken because it is preventing our school districts from fulfilling their obligation and duty to protect the school children in their supervision,” she said. “This is also critically important in reducing the spread of the Delta variant among a vulnerable population of hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma school kids who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.”

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