One of the biggest hot-button issues during this entire legislative session has been banning mask mandates and vaccine passports. Early in the legislative term, Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) authored several bills aimed at banning municipalities from implementing mask mandates and vaccine passports. However, none of those bills ever made it out of committee.
When the area mask-mandates ceased. the issue took on an even more heated tone as parents across the metro area began begging the area school boards to drop the mask mandates for the schools as well. That’s where Senator Rob Standridge (R-Norman) took up the gauntlet to push for legislation to prohibit the schools from forcing students, against the wishes of the parents, to wear masks or get the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
In doing so, he authored SB 658, a bill designed to ban vaccine passports and give parents much more power to challenge a school district’s mask mandate. The bill has had a bit of an arduous journey through the legislature, having passed the Senate and House, only to be rejected by the Senate once the House version was sent back for consideration. Now, after having gone through two different committee hearings, the bill has finally returned to the Senate for final passage.
The bill “prohibits any school district, institution of Higher Education, the State Board of Education, or the State Board of Career and Technology Education from requiring a vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution.” Additionally, the measure prohibits those entities, “from requiring a vaccine passport as a condition of admittance or implementing a mask mandate for students that are not vaccinated against COVID-19.”
While the measure stops short of an outright ban on mask mandates, it does put mush more restrictions on the entities prior to issuing the mandates, and more importantly it gives the parents the ability to challenge those mandates. In specific, the school districts may only, “implement a mask mandate after consultation with the local county health department or city-county health department within the jurisdiction of where the board is located.”
What’s more, any such mandate must, “list the purposes for the mandate as well as the specific masks or medical devices that would meet the requirements of the mandate.” Additionally, the measure requires the school board to reconsider mask mandates at every regularly scheduled meeting.
The most powerful part of the measure allows citizens, not just parents, of that school district the right to, “challenge the mandate at a school district meeting by citing 3 or more relevant studies that show possible significant adverse effects as a result of wearing a mask or medical device that would be required under the mandate or by citing 3 or more studies showing the mandate will not be effective.”
In addition, it states that, “Citizens may also challenge the mandate by providing documentation showing that any mask or medical device that would satisfy the mandate is shown by one or more relevant studies to pose a risk of substantial harm if used in a manner cited in the mandate.”
The significance of this section cannot be stressed enough. It hands the parents exactly what they’ve been looking for: a way to force the school districts to listen to actual science, as opposed to CDC-fed propaganda. To coin the phrase, this bill will truly give the power back to the people…something local parents have long since been deprived of when it comes to the school boards.
Due to the emergency attached to the measure, the bill would become effective immediately upon it’s passage and signature by the Governor.
Ignite Liberty reached out to the Senator Standridge Friday afternoon to ask what the citizens could do to help the bills passage. He noted that Senate Leadership has been very helpful in getting this measure to this point, and urged citizens to call their senator and encourage them to support this critical measure.