Judge Puts Hold on Law Banning Mask Mandates in Schools


On Wednesday, September 1, Oklahoma District Judge Natalie Mai issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of provisions of SB 658, which prohibit local school districts from enacting mask mandates on school property. In her ruling, she said the law violated the equal protection and special law provisions of the state constitution because it applied only to public schools, not private ones.
 
The temporary injunction allows school districts to implement mask policies, although the judge did leave a loophole that will allow parents to opt out. She will schedule a formal hearing on the case, which was brought by OSMA and a group of concerned parents, at a later date. But the injunction will stay in place until either that hearing or if/until the state appeals to a higher court and gets a reversal.

This ruling was certainly a victory for public health and local control in the sense that it untied school districts’ hands a bit if they want to have some kind of mask mandate. There is, however, the caveat mentioned earlier that school districts must allow some form of parental opt out. So it is important to note that this was just one battle in an ongoing fight.