HULBERT, Oklahoma – The education council of a rural Kindergarten to Grade 12 school district with 606 students has become the third in Oklahoma to challenge the state legislature by demanding that all adults and students wear face masks.
Members of Hulbert’s board voted on Wednesday night for the term, regardless of vaccination status, although waivers could be granted on a case-by-case basis.
The move flies in the face of Oklahoma Senate Bill 658, which prevents public school districts from requiring masks without Governor Kevin Stitt declaring an emergency. He did not do it.
Hulbert will join Oklahoma City Public Schools and Southern Santa Fe Schools, which previously announced they would apply a mask warrant.
The announcement comes after Hulbert Middle School and Hulbert High School went virtual until the end of the week, as more than 25% of the population of their schools is quarantined. The primary school has not closed its doors.
In a letter released Thursday morning, Hulbert’s superintendent Jolyn Choate informed parents their decision stemmed from recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The mandate will come into effect on August 19.
“The safety of our school family is our top priority, and the increase in COVID-19 cases in our district has made this difficult decision necessary,” she wrote.
Since Hulbert started school on August 12, seven people have tested positive, resulting in the quarantine of 154 people. That would include most of the HHS Rider football team, which was scheduled to play its opener on Friday August 27 against Westville.
“The current situation not only creates a health risk for students, but also results in a significant loss of in-person teaching time. By wearing masks in the classroom, we can better protect the health of our students and dramatically reduce the number of students who must be quarantined when there is a positive case, ”Choate wrote.
According to the letter, the number of cases has exceeded that recorded at any time last year, which Choate attributes to the more aggressive Delta variant of COVID-19.
“The cases in Cherokee County continue to grow and, depending on the size of our enrollments, the number of our schools is growing at an even faster rate,” she wrote.
HPS officials have said they will work with people who need an exception to the mandate on a case-by-case basis.