Oklahoma school principal and governor to discuss emergency order


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The superintendent of public schools in Oklahoma said on Tuesday she would meet with Governor Kevin Stitt this week to discuss whether he would issue an emergency order, due to the increase in coronavirus cases , which would allow school districts to require masking.

Joy Hofmeister said she was not aware of any districts implementing a mask warrant, which would violate a law prohibiting school mask mandates signed by Stitt in May.

“We have to obey the law,” said Hofmeister. “There could be changes if the governor chooses to return local control” to the districts by declaring a state of emergency.

“I have a meeting this week with the governor, we will definitely talk about it,” said Hofmeister.

Stitt, who tweeted that he was in Altus on touring meetings around the state with his cabinet, said he does not see the need for an emergency order. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The seven-day moving average of new cases per day rose to 2,025 on Tuesday, the state health department reported, from 1,158.9 on July 25, and a one-day increase of 1,042 new cases, a day after the state surpassed the 500,000 total cases reported since the pandemic began.

There have been 919 hospitalizations related to the virus, including 250 in intensive care, according to the health service.

Although the number of hospitals linked to the virus is below January’s peak levels, hospitals are under stress, said Dr Dale Bratzler of OU Health.

“Remember there are a lot of other people for other things at the same time that we have this huge shortage of nurses”, Bratzler said.

“The ability of hospitals to reallocate beds, bring in contingent staff … depends on the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency and if our hospitalizations continue to increase, it may be necessary,” Bratzler said.

On Monday, the state attorney general’s office filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court against a Friday ruling that Oklahoma reinstates an additional federal unemployment assistance program which ended in June.

The court combined the case with a similar second trial, with the two claiming Stitt overstepped his authority in May with a statement ending State participation in the program designed to help those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

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