A local school board member in Oklahoma complained this week that children in her school district should not be allowed to "commit murder" by coming to school without wearing a mask.
What did she say?
"It's just not OK for kids to commit murder by coming to school without a mask," Norman Public Schools board member Linda Sexton charged during a board meeting on Monday. An audible groan was heard from some attendees as she made the statement.
"And when it comes down to it, it's possible," she added. "They will cause a death of another child because they come to school without a mask. That's not OK."
The relevant remarks can be heard in the video below starting at the 1:35:00 mark.
NPS Board of Education Meeting 8-9-21youtu.be
What's the background?
Sexton's comments came in response to Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt's refusal to allow mask mandates in schools, Fox News reported. The news outlet noted that in May, Stitt signed a law that prohibits imposing mask requirements in school districts where a state of emergency has not been declared.
It's the latest in an unfolding drama regarding masks in schools as the spread of the coronavirus Delta variant has caused public health experts to once again rethink their guidance.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month issued new guidance advising K-12 students, teachers, staff, and visitors to wear masks in school buildings — even if they're vaccinated.
Now school districts around the country are grappling with the new guidance and deciding whether or not to implement mandates for the upcoming school year.
Stitt has previously defended his position by noting that his ban on mask mandates seeks to protect his constituents' personal freedoms and does not prevent anyone from wearing a mask to school in order to protect themselves. But that argument didn't sit well with Sexton.
"I would like to try to find a way to stand up as a district and get our surrounding superintendents to stand up with us, and protect our little kids," Sexton said. "It's insane to send 5- and 6- and 7- and 8- — all the way up through 11-year-olds — that don't have a choice about the vaccine, to sit in a classroom where people can spread a deadly disease and not even know they're sick."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet granted emergency use authorization of the coronavirus vaccines for children under the age of 12.
In an email response to Fox News, Sexton apologized for her remarks.
"My emotions got the best of me in that moment and I went too far in regards to people's decisions not to wear a mask," she said. "I apologize for my choice of words and I regret deeply that I placed blame on students and families for their personal choices. I want to say directly to those families that I am very sorry. I am striving to better understand the choices and decisions of those who oppose masking and I am committed to ensuring our schools are a welcoming environment for all."