Oklahoma Attorney General Wants Court Order Blocking School Mask Requirements

Aug 27, 2021

Attorney General John O'Connor
Credit Hall-Estill

The Oklahoma Attorney General said Thursday his office will move as quickly as it can to block public school mask requirements that are in violation of a state law enacted this year.

Attorney General John O’Connor said legal action could come as soon as next week.

"I think we'll probably have to ask for injunctive relief early in the lawsuit so that the schools have guidance. My basic position is that we can trust the parents. Somehow, we've sort of abandoned the notion that the parents are in the best position to protect their kids," O'Connor said.

Senate Bill 658 banned public schools from requiring masks unless the governor has declared an emergency. The Oklahoma State Medical Association has sued Gov. Kevin Stitt, seeking to have that law overturned.

It’s not clear which districts could be affected by action by the attorney general's office, but Stitt and O’Connor have publicly criticized Hulbert Public Schools. Their board voted last week to require all adults and students wear masks, with exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

O’Connor said he’s not trying to attack local officials by seeking an injunction against mask requirements he believes defy state law.

"These are good people, the leadership in the schools. They have to decide what they think is best, and then we decide what — I decide that the law is a certain way and we enforce it. We're not demonizing the school leadership. We're all trying to protect the kids," O'Connor said.

Public health experts and school officials are concerned about bringing mostly unvaccinated students into classrooms. Several districts have already announced COVID cases and exposures.