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Mixed opinions from Tulsa parents on requiring masks in schools

Tulsa parents voice their concerns over whether masks should be mandated in schools. (KTUL)
Tulsa parents voice their concerns over whether masks should be mandated in schools. (KTUL)
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Students and their parents could attend back-to-school events in Tulsa on Saturday to get bags of school supplies, including masks.

Bags offered by the North Tulsa Economic Development Initiative were full of the regular supplies students need in class along with a new addition for the classroom: masks.

The organization provided bags and food to more than 300 students on Saturday at Pine Premier Child Care in north Tulsa.

Organizers made the event socially distanced by keeping families inside their cars and driving through to stations for school supplies and food.

Wearing a mask isn't required for Tulsa Public Schools students due to a current state law banning schools from requiring masks. Some parents at the event thought a requirement would be helpful to their child though.

"Numbers are increasing," said Alice Soto, a TPS parent whose daughter will start 2nd grade this year. "We will send her in a mask and she's used to it by now."

Naya Jackson's son is going into pre-kindergarten and said she thinks teachers will help young students keep their masks on, but thinks a mandate would help.

"It’s an elementary school and they aren’t able to become vaccinated so just for safety reasons to protect the children," said Jackson.

Nearby at the Parent Resource Center, more than 1,000 students lined up with their parents for free school supplies, uniforms and resources ahead of the school year.

There was a mix of unmasked and masked students at the event.

Jennifer Brame's daughter is going into 1st grade and has special needs. Brame said her daughter will wear a mask but doesn't think the school or the state should be telling parents what to do.

"I don’t feel like it should be forced because I don’t want it to come to a point where she gets in trouble if she needs to adjust it or have a mask break," said Brame. "I also feel like people don’t like to be forced into doing things."

Some school districts in the Oklahoma City area have defied the state law and will require students to wear masks. Brame said she doesn't want to see those same requirements in Tulsa.

TPS students spent much of their time at home during the last school year. Many are excited to be back inside the classroom to make new friends and away from their computer, but not all of them are ready to wear a mask for hours at a time.

"School is a little different now," said Jerzie, a TPS 8th grader. "So we have to wear masks and we can’t be as close to people."

She said she's grown accustomed to the mask but still doesn't like it much.

Other students questioned why they need to wear it if they aren't sick.

Jonathan is a TPS 5th grader and said he will listen to his mom and teacher to wear a mask even if it's not required.

"I just don't want to get COVID," he said.


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