FILE - In this May 17, 2021, file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. An Oklahoma judge says she is temporarily blocking a state law banning public school mask mandates, but that personal exemptions to mask-wearing will be required. Judge Natalie Mai's ruling Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 drew praise from Gov. Kevin Stitt, who opposes mask mandates without exemptions, and Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association which joined the lawsuit challenging the law. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Oklahoma school mask mandate ban blocked, exemptions a must

Oklahoma school mask mandate ban blocked, exemptions a must

Oklahoma school mask mandate ban blocked, exemptions a must

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma judge on Wednesday said she will temporarily block a state law banning public school mask mandates, but students or their parents can opt out of the requirement if they choose.

Judge Natalie Mai said she will issue a temporary injunction that will go into effect next week when she issues a written order detailing her ruling. Mai said she is blocking the law because it applies only to public, not private, schools and that schools adopting a mask mandate must provide an option for parents or students to opt out of the requirement.

The ruling drew praise from Gov. Kevin Stitt, who signed the law and opposes mask mandates without exemptions, and Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, which joined the lawsuit brought by four parents who oppose the law.

“This is a victory for parental choice, personal responsibility and the rule of law,” Stitt said in a statement.

Clarke said she was also pleased with the ruling.

“This is just a first step in ensuring our schools maintain local control and can choose the best path for their students, faculty and staff,” Clarke said in a statement.

“While not included in SB 658, some businesses’ mitigation efforts such as mask and vaccine requirements have been under fire,” Clarke said.

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