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Mask Mandates: Senate Bill 658

With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise just as school is about to begin, quite a few questions have come up pertaining to masking and mask-wearing mandates. SB 658, signed into law this past session and now in effect, directly addresses the topic.

The first section of the bill (amending 70 O.S. Section 1210.191) requires each school district in the state to post on its website and in any publications to parents regarding immunization requests/requirements, a statement with the following information: "For school enrollment, a parent or guardian shall provide one of the following: 1. Current, up-to-date immunization records; or 2. A completed and signed exemption form."

Section 2 of the bill (a new law - 70 O.S. Section 1210.189)states that a board of education of a public school district or tech school district (as well as the board of a public or private higher ed institution, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the State Board of Education or the State Board of Career and Technology Education) shall not require a COVID-19 vaccination or a "vaccine passport" as a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution, nor shall a board implement a mask mandate for students who are unvaccinated. 

The third section of the bill (also a new law - 70 O.S. 1210.190) sets out the specific requirements for a public school or tech school board's implementation of a mask (or other medical devices) mandate as follows: 1. A mandate may only be enacted after consultation with the local county health department in a jurisdiction where the board is located which is under a current state of emergency as declared by the governor; 2. The mandate must list the explicit purpose for the mandate. 3. The mandate must give the specific medical devices or masks, which would satisfy the mandate's requirements. 4. Any mask (or other medical device) mandate has to be reconsidered by the board at each regularly scheduled board meeting.

Full text of the bill may be found here. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Terri Thomas

Director, Legal Services

Terri Thomas serves as Director of Legal Services for OPSRC. Ms. Thomas is an attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Oklahoma school law, with a primary focus on rural and smaller school districts. Prior to OPSRC, she served as legal counsel for the Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools (OROS).

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