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Stitt Criticizes School, Biden Over Masking


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is criticizing both a northeast Oklahoma school district that adopted a mask mandate and President Joe Biden over comments that the state’s school mask mandate ban may violate a coronavirus aid package for schools.

The Republican governor and state Attorney General John O’Connor released a joint statement Thursday criticizing the Hulbert school district for its mask requirement.

“It is disappointing that one school district has chosen to openly violate a state law that was supported by 80 percent of the Legislature,” Stitt said.

The district’s policy includes an opt-out option for medical reasons. Stitt last week praised two Oklahoma City school districts for mask mandates that included opt-out options for medical, religious or personal reasons.

O’Connor said the law is constitutional and that the state is fighting a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

Stitt’s criticism of Biden comes after U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in letters to him and state school Superintendent Joy Hofmeister Wednesday that the school mask ban may violate the American Rescue Plan that provided $123 billion to the nation’s schools to help them return to the classroom.

“Oklahomans overwhelmingly believe parents should make decisions about their kids, not the government,” Stitt wrote.

Hofmeister on Thursday tweeted a link to a Tulsa World article about Cardona's letters, adding, "School districts must have the autonomy to enact policies that protect our schoolchildren and staff from COVID exposure and infection. And—for schools to remain open for in-person instruction, the to-do list is clear: Get vaccinated and wear a mask."

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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