As one of the leading rabble-rousers in the local Coronamania echo chamber, I’ve been overwhelmed with lots and lots and lots of news tips this summer about all the different places around the state that either don’t require masks, or don’t enforce local mask mandates. Over the past couple of weeks, most of these tips have been focused on local schools and classrooms. This article in The Oklahoman_ probably explains why:
Dozens of school districts not following COVID mask guidance, officials say
More than a third of Oklahoma school districts are not following state guidance to require masks in schools, state officials reported.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education found 190 school districts, or 35%, are not requiring any students or staff to wear face coverings…
The state Department of Education conducted an informal survey of 536 districts in recent weeks, enough to cover nearly all districts in Oklahoma.
Before we continue, I’d like to point out that The Oklahoman_ used the word “dozens” in the headline to describe 190 school districts that are not following state guidelines. Is that really the best word for a number that high? Dozens should max out at four or five dozen tops, as in “The Oklahoman has dozens of loyal newspaper subscribers.” You don’t use it to describe 187 school districts not enforcing public safety guidelines.
Either way, 35% of Oklahoma school districts not requiring masks may seem like an alarming number, but it’s not that bad. As any ardent anti-masker will tell you, Oklahoma has way too many school districts, and lots of them are located in faraway corners of civilization that are immune from the virus… right?
The state recommends all schools in counties at Yellow Level or higher require students and staff to wear masks, based on the state’s color-coded COVID-19 Alert System. Yellow Level is defined as 1.43 cases per 100,000 people in a county.
Only Tillman County in southwest Oklahoma recorded fewer than 1.43 cases per 100,000 last week, also known as Green Level. Masks are no longer recommended at Green Level.
Tillman County contains three of the 190 districts with no mask mandate. The 187 others all are in counties at Yellow Level or above, the survey shows.
Yep! Cue the waters, upsell the appetizers, and stop serving booze, 187 of the 190 districts are in the yellow zone. Once again, that may sound alarming, but as trusted Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt has taught us, color-coded government warning systems are not very important. In fact, they should be hidden from the public eye!
Plus, it’s not like we’ve seen another surge in COVID-19 cases since schools have started to reopen:
❗️NEW: Oklahoma reports 713 new coronavirus cases as the 7-day average creeps up to its highest level in nearly three weeks. pic.twitter.com/WboUaYZ6iI
— Dillon Richards (@KOCODillon) August 31, 2020
Wow. We’ve seen an increase in dozens and dozens and dozens of cases per day since school reopened. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence and probably has more to do with lighter than normal wind speeds.
Anyway, we kind of talked about the state’s guidance for public schools, and why school districts basically get to do what they want, when we had State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on The Lost Ogle Show. We also talked to the Interm State Epidemiologist Jared Taylor. Give them all a listen.