November 2, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “For the Children” Weekly Column
Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: (405) 833-1117
For the Children: A Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, CEO – OICA
We Survived Election Day, Now It’s Time to Govern and Protect Children
If you are reading this, then you have survived Election Day! While there might be states with some issues unresolved with their final count, I hope civility will prevail. Our country must honor and stand united behind the final result as the winners transition to governing.
Please remember that what makes our nation great is the ability the political power rests in the hands of voters who cast their ballots. We are not ruled by a dictator who holds power through force or intimidation or a monarch who holds that position due to heredity. Gracefully accepting the voters’ will can be difficult, especially when you are dedicated either to a candidate or a philosophy and the winner is the other side. Supporters donate their time, talent, and treasure to support their candidates. Win or lose, though, candidates and those who support them must accept the result, and each has the responsibility to work toward a compromise on solutions, rather than inciting animosity toward the opposition.
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy does not get involved in elections for or against candidates. OICA looks forward to working with all who are victorious. We hope to move away from Tuesday to begin to focus on issues that affect us close to home.
One such issue on which OICA is very engaged in encouraging the Oklahoma State Board of Education to adopt a statewide rule requiring students and teachers to be masked for in-person schooling. An estimated 20 percent of local school districts are not following the locally recommended health department suggestions to wear a mask. This risky inaction endangers students, teachers, and personnel across school buildings. The risk extends beyond campuses; parents and grandparents raising school-age children also are at risk. When COVID-19 spreads, local businesses are negatively impacted by a local outbreak, and that damage reverberates across the entire economy.
I will be very clear: OICA wants to see children back in the classroom, but they need to be wearing a mask whenever possible. The only way that will work for the good of all of us is if schools implement a strict masking policy.
We have seen government officials implement similar policies directed at young people in the past. In fact, it was then-state Sen. Frank Keating who passed the motorcycle helmet law for those under 18 before becoming one of our most conservative governors. A bipartisan effort has been underway to implement seatbelt laws for minors over the past two years, as well.
We have other health-related restrictions in place that allow for reasonable exemptions. OICA understands that might be the case with wearing a mask. We understand that compromise may be necessary to adopt a statewide rule. For the sake of our children, though, let’s just get some form of universal mask policy implemented.
With the policy, most students will wear them while studying in-person in the classroom. That way, we can get these students back to school and keep them there. This can be a safety issue because of the levels of abuse and neglect too many children endure. We ask that you join us to support this rule to keep our children, teachers, and families safer throughout this unrelenting pandemic by signing our petition at https://tinyurl.com/OKMask.
Finally, now that the elections are over, please join together to encourage winners to do what is right for our state and our nation!