Claremore school board members discussed implementing mask requirements with the ability to opt out.
“The reality is, if you don’t want to wear a mask, sign the opt out and you’re not going to have to,” Claremore Public Schools Superintendent Bryan Frazier said in the regular school board meeting Monday night. “We’re trying to strike a balance and be non-combative. I mean, I’m not going to make you wear a mask. We’re not the masks police. We’re simply trying to get to a point where we have more students in school and I think it will definitely help us.”
Anyone can opt-out for three reasons including religious, medical or personal belief.
“We will honor all opt-outs,” he said.
Board members just discussed the option and took no action. For any action to be taken a special meeting will be called.
If implemented, the mask requirement would be for all staff and students and will pertain to all inside facilities during school hours. Visitors will be required to wear a mask and can not opt out. Masks will be made available and any employee working alone in a classroom or office won’t have to wear a mask.
“We’d all rather not have a mask on, don’t get me wrong, but the reality is we don’t want to quarantine or get COVID,” Frazier said. “So, we’re going to have to figure out what we can and can’t do.”
If implemented, the policy would expire Dec. 17, 2021 or if a subsequent court ruling reinstating SB658 in full or if the school board votes to end the policy.
Frazier said he believes the masks will help with the quarantine numbers.
“We are trying to get our heads around how to mitigate both the virus and the quarantines without increasing the COVID positives,” he said. “It’s a balancing act. This is not going away. This is something we are going to have to learn to live with. We can not sustain quarantining 300 – 400 students a week. Absolutely can’t do it.”
If the policy is implemented, it will change the proximity of quarantines from six feet to three feet.
“That is very doable in our buildings,” Frazier said.
Currently, if two unmasked people are within six feet of each other and one of them gets COVID, they both have to quarantine. With the policy, if both are wearing masks, they only have to quarantine of they were within three feet of each other.
Last week the district had 17 positive COVID cases and 94 student quarantines.
The week before last week, there were 37 positive COVID cases and 300 student quarantines.
“Our goal – just like everyone’s goal – is we want our kids to be in school,” he said. “But we have to do so in a balancing manner in that it’s the safest for all. We can’t remove something and hope the positive cases don’t go up.”
Frazier said the purpose of this is to get to a better place and to move the district forward.
“I think we’ve all yelled and screamed at each other enough of what we think and what we believe,” he said. “We’ve got to accept the fact that we’ve got to do something and I think this will help us.”