The Oklahoman

State lawmakers must repeal the ban on mask mandates, for children’s safety


When Oklahoma’s Legislatur­e passed SB 658 banning school mask mandates, cases were down and many believed that the worst of COVID-19 was over. Vaccines were widely available for adults, and there was good reason to hope for a return to normalcy.

Then the delta wave hit with the strength of a tsunami, and too few Oklahomans had taken the vaccine. With children in its path and parents and school leaders pleading for a chance to use mitigating strategies, the governor stands far from shore, himself protected by the vaccine he says is “freely available” (not so for those under 12, sir). From his safer ground, he fecklessly shouts to our children in the path of this wave, “Use personal responsibi­lity!” Further, he has locked away the life preservers, blocking efforts of parents seeking to improve our children’s safety in this dangerous surge with a mask mandate.

Oklahoma lawmakers have stood together against the governor before. Every policymake­r who voted for this has a moral obligation to stand up now to protect our children. Certainly things were different then; families can forgive incorrectl­y predicting the trajectory of a new disease. What we will not be able to forgive is lawmakers watching this wave crash down and doing nothing to correct the error that put our children in such a vulnerable place — in delta’s path.

Lawmakers must repeal the ban on mask mandates and allow the local control so eagerly endorsed last year before more Oklahoma children and their family members die unnecessar­ily.

— Robin Fuxa, Stillwater

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