OKLAHOMA CITY – Members of the House Republican Caucus today issued a statement in support of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s call for students to return to in-person learning in schools amid updated safety protocols.
“The majority of Oklahoma parents and guardians have chosen in-person learning as the best option for their child, and many have told us they want their children back in school. A recent medical study showed that 99.96% of 90,000 students and staff studied did not catch COVID-19 at school, and there were zero cases of child-to-adult within-school transmission. This shows us that we can safely return students and educators to in-person learning with proper safety protocols in place with extremely minimal risk. Governor Stitt’s decision is the right, safe thing to do for our children, their families and our state educators.”
The governor on Tuesday announced that Oklahoma schools following safety protocols, including mask-wearing and social distancing, will be permitted to forgo the mandatory two-week quarantine period for potential COVID-19 exposures.
The change is the result of requests from parents, teachers, and school leaders and enactment of the new guidelines is left to the discretion of each school district.
Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye also pointed out that other states such as Missouri, Utah and Ohio have put similar quarantine policies into place and haven’t seen large outbreaks occur in schools.
The governor said that refusing to offer in-person school is jeopardizing students’ education and teachers’ careers, which in turn affects the entire state.
As part of the governor’s new policy, schools should continue to require quarantines for exposed students in situations where masking and distancing protocols were not followed. Additionally, the updated quarantine guidance does not apply if the exposure occurs during after-school activities, including sports. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must continue to isolate regardless where they contracted the virus or were wearing a mask.
The state is prioritizing vaccinations for teachers who are 65 and older this week and next and will open vaccinations up to all teachers as soon as vaccine availability allows. The state will also double the amount of rapid antigen tests provided to schools to encourage frequent testing to catch any positive cases early.
Frye also said schools have proven to be one of the safest places for most students. He said, data also shows—and the CDC recommends—that getting students safely back to in-person learning is critical for their educational success, mental health and social development.
Issuing the above statement from the House Republican Caucus are:
- State Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon
- State Rep. Steve Bashore, R-Miami
- State Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa
- State Rep. Brad Boles, R-Marlow
- State Rep. Ty Burns, R-Pawnee
- State Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid
- State Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle
- State Rep. Rusty Cornwell, R-Vinita
- State Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont
- State Rep. Bob Ed Culver, R-Tahlequah
- State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa
- State Rep. Mike Dobrinski, R-Okeene
- State Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City
- State Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee
- State Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola
- State Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton
- State Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell
- State Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin
- State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow
- State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane
- State Rep. Gerrid Kendrix, R-Altus
- State Rep. Dell Kerbs, R-Shawnee
- State Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa
- State Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore
- State Rep. Dick Lowe, R-Amber
- State Rep. Robert Manger, R-Oklahoma City
- State Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond
- State Rep. Stan May, R-Broken Arrow
- State Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore
- Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka
- State Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow
- State Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond
- State Rep. Garry Mize, R-Guthrie
- State Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee
- Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa
- State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland
- State Rep. Kenton Patzkowsky, R-Balko
- State Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando
- State Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula
- State Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant
- State Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay
- State Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell
- State Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks
- State Rep. David Smith, R-Arpelar
- State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon
- State Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh
- State Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore
- State Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso
- State Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston
- State Rep. Josh West, R-Grove
- State Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore
- State Rep. Rick West, R-Heavener
- State Rep. Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City