© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

"School Is Vital": Superintendent Hofmeister Urges Oklahomans To Wear Masks In Public


Following Oklahoma's first recorded COVID-19-related death of a school-aged child on Sunday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister is urging Oklahomans to wear masks in public and do their part to contain the spread of the virus.

"Students need to learn. We want schools to reopen this fall, but for that to happen, it is critical that Oklahomans take decisive actions now to mitigate spread of the virus," Hofmeister said in a statement. "Wearing a mask around other people is a small sacrifice for the sake of literally saving lives."

1,424 children between the ages of five and 17 have been reported as having COVID-19 in Oklahoma, representing more than seven percent of the state's total cases.

"School is vital, especially after the significant learning loss from last spring's building closures," she said. "At the same time, we must take every precaution to protect our children and those who serve in schools across this state."

It will be a local decision determined by individual school districts to reopen in the fall, but state officials want them to at least try to open in person.

In a press conference last week, Governor Kevin Stitt said he’s encouraging local districts to start up in person if possible, echoing President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on reopening.

"We want our schools to start in the fall," Stitt said. "And we know we’re going to put some contingency plans in place that if there is any kind of outbreaks in the schools that they can do some online learning as well."

The pivot to distance learning proved difficult for schools. More than 160,000 Oklahoma students did not have home internet access, which is vital in delivering school to the home.

Stitt said much of the State Department of Education’s focus this summer has been on closing that internet access gap to be ready if the coronavirus again forces school closures. In May, Stitt vetoed the Rural Broadband Expansion Act that would have studied the state's Internet access in the state and how to improve it, as well as develop a uniform system statewide. Stitt called the measure unnecessary and redundant.

Districts have begun coming up with strategies, and many feature online and in-person plans for instruction.

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.
Related Content