GUYMON, Oklahoma (KFDA) - Students in Guymon will not be required to wear face masks when they return to school this fall.
Oklahoma state officials announced last week the decision of requiring face masks while at school would be left up to schools locally.
Today, the school board for Guymon Public Schools made the decision that face masks will not be required, but strongly encouraged.
“In our return to learn plan, it is still strongly encouraged for students and staff,” said Angela Rhoades, the superintendent at Guymon Public Schools.
Guymon Public Schools decided that masks in the classroom will not be required, but hope the personal relationship between staff and students will encourage the use of masks.
“I truly believe students will say ‘absolutely, for you I will wear my mask in your class',” said Rhoades.
The return to learn plan is based on levels in reference to the number of active cases, allowing changes if an outbreak occurs.
“We still have flexibility in our plan that if our numbers increase, I can come back and say ‘okay, we’re at orange level one and we need to mandate masks at this time',” said Rhoades.
This decision comes after Texas County was a COVID-19 hot spot for months.
“It kind of slowed down and we’re kind of glad,” said Harold Tyson, the director of Texas County, Emergency Management. “As of today, we have 21 active cases in Texas County. I think it could slow down even more personally, but we are still needing to do the masks and doing the social distancing.”
Guymon Public Schools is aware of the bullying that might take place with some students wearing masks, and says they will be doing everything they can to address the situation.
“People are going to wear a mask for whatever reason and that’s their choice. So we are going to address that so if people wear a mask, be respectful of that,” said Rhoades.
Rhoades said with limited classroom space, Guymon Public Schools teachers are getting creative with how classrooms are set up and creating social distancing.