McAlester News-Capital OUR VIEW PHOTO

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Gov. Kevin Stitt announced guidelines intending to promote in-person school attendance that further jeopardize children and teachers across a state in the middle of a pandemic.

Oklahoma is in yet another peak of the COVID-19 pandemic with record numbers continuing to surge. The state averages more than 4,000 new cases per day. More Oklahomans require hospitalization due to the virus. Death counts often register in double digits.

Yet the governor again rejected science and common sense when he recently said he changed policy to allow schools to ignore mandatory quarantines for teachers and students exposed to COVID-19 if the districts follow mask mandates and social distance protocol.

“Schools that enforce the use of masks will not have to quarantine students that were potentially exposed to COVID-19 unless they are showing symptoms,” Stitt said during a press conference.

Stitt and his advisers disregarded the fact that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 still put others at risk of being infected.

We again urge everyone to wear a mask, distance from others, wash your hands often and follow Centers for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines to prevent community spread of COVID-19.

But essentially telling our family, friends and children they can’t spread it if they don’t test positive is false and irresponsible.

We agree with Stitt’s call for returning to in-person instruction as students learn better in a classroom setting.

Education has faced challenges throughout the pandemic with students’ grades reportedly on the decline, mental health issues rising, teachers tasked with implementing multiple different methods and styles of instruction, among others.

School districts have the seemingly impossible task of balancing what’s best for the students’ education and best for the overall health of the community.

Families undoubtedly struggle balancing work and being a proxy instructor when their children transition to virtual instruction.

Our belief is educators providing in-person instruction is the best solution for most of these challenges and would give us all the much-desired need for a sense of normalcy.

But we’re all in this pandemic together.

We believe the governor’s misguided policy change will put even more people’s lives at risk.

We urge local schools to prioritize the health of your family, friends, teachers and students by continuing to follow quarantine guidelines by the CDC — not from the governor.

McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board

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