Professional Oklahoma Educators executive director Ginger Tinney told KOCO-TV that the organization will represent six employees, including some teachers, who were punished over the mandate.
“It is a little awkward and tense, but, you know, obviously, the teachers are very upset. They’re on paid administrative leave,” Tinney said.
“So, you know, this is their whole career they’ve worked hard for. I mean, it’s very serious. We’re happy to represent them, and we’ll just see what the courts decide,” she added.
Tinney said the teachers were confused by conflicting orders from different authorities.
“The teachers are in a bad spot. Like, you have a state law that says one thing. You have a school person or school superintendent who disagrees with the law, and they pass their own rules,” Tinney explained. “So, a teacher doesn’t really know what are my rights, what is the legality here.”
While Oklahoma health officials have called on the state’s Republican governor to order mask mandates for children returning to schools, Gov. Kevin Stitt has resisted those calls. Some hospitals have imposed their own mandates on health care workers.
Oklahoma City Public Schools issued its own mask requirement as students began their second week of school.
On Saturday, hundreds of Oklahomans protested at the state Capitol against any vaccine and mask mandates.
Oklahoma is experiencing a resurgence of the coronavirus with a seven-day average of 2,200 new cases after the rate had plummeted to 110 new cases in June. Previously the highest seven-day average of new cases in the state was 3,900 in January.
“I think it’s important that teachers know we, Professional Oklahoma Educators, have their backs,” Tinney said of the teachers. “If they get in tough situations, they need to know, ‘Hey, there is help out there. We are there to help you.'”
Here’s a local news report about the planned lawsuit: