The Oklahoma State Board of Education has serious concerns about the current surge in COVID-19 cases, with more than 4,500 new cases recently reported out on a single day, including 608 adolescents. The escalation of COVID hospitalizations (1,248 as of Nov. 11, 2020) and patients in intensive care is startling and has adverse implications for the Oklahoma healthcare statewide. The health and safety of students and school personnel remain a pressing priority. The sharp increase in viral transmission is particularly alarming as public schools struggle to continue offering needed in-person instruction and providing critical services to children.  

Therefore, the State Board of Education implores Oklahoma school boards and district superintendents to require students and staff to wear face masks on public school campuses and within district vehicles, and especially when in classrooms or other large gatherings. Public health experts agree that mask-wearing and social distancing are the most effective ways to mitigate this viral spread, which in turn would alleviate stress on Oklahoma’s healthcare system, help keep schools open and protect the well-being of Oklahomans.