Posted Date: 12/01/2021
Citing a desire to maintain consistency and minimize exposure risks going into the holidays, Union Public Schools’ board of education voted Tuesday to keep the district’s mask requirement in place for now.
At a special meeting Tuesday night, the school board voted 3-2 to reject a recommendation from Superintendent Kirt Hartzler to suspend Union’s mask requirement. Instead, the board will look at local and district case numbers after the winter break and will reassess at its Jan. 18 meeting whether the mandate is still needed.
“We’re in a great place and we just want to stay there,” board President Stacey Roemerman said. “We’re going to watch the numbers. We’re planning to reassess in January and if we can get through that first hump of the flu season and we’re still doing well, we’ll discuss it again and maybe lift it then.”
In order to be in compliance with a temporary injunction from the Oklahoma County District Court, Union’s mask requirement does include opt-out provisions for religious or medical grounds or for strongly held personal beliefs.
As of Tuesday, Union had 15 confirmed cases among staff and students. However, Union officials acknowledged that the numbers may not paint a full picture with classes not in session the entire previous week due to Thanksgiving break.
According to its last published case count prior to the holiday, the district had 52 confirmed cases across all campuses, a 72% decline from early September when the mandate was enacted.
“I promised back in September that I would call another special meeting if the data warranted it,” Hartzler said.
Voting against Hartzler’s recommendation were board members Heather McAdams, Joey Reyes and Dr. Chris McNeil, who came to the meeting after working a 12-hour shift in the emergency room at Oklahoma State University Medical Center.
“My perspective on this is meeting someone on their worst day,” McNeil said. “If we make mistakes as a board, essentially the hospital is going to see those mistakes. If there’s anything I can do to add a preventative factor to that, then that’s my job.”
MASK MANDATE: Students at Union Public Schools will continue wearing masks on Wednesday morning.
The school board voted Tuesday night to keep its mask mandate in place for now.