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Marlow Public Schools Superintendent George Coffman confirmed the Board of Education for Marlow Public Schools voted Monday on a districtwide mask mandate to take effect immediately.

The district saw some interruptions as COVID-19 rages on. Coffman said he hopes the mask mandate will help activities and schools stay in session.

“The biggest reason we made this full mask mandate is we are starting the winter season with winter sports and we are trying to alleviate some of the issues out of the potential we have with the indoor activities,” Coffman said. “Marlow Public Schools does not, nor do we ever want, to do virtual and if we have to, it is because our numbers are at the point that we will have to do those things.”

Prior to Thanksgiving, the district made the move to virtual for the middle school and high school after a surge in COVID-19 cases in Marlow and confirmed positives and quarantines at the schools.

Coffman believes the mask mandate is needed to survive the winter season and not go back to virtual. With a goal of sticking with in-person instruction, teachers and staff began mask wearing in August.

“At our high school, we were already at about 95% of our kids wearing masks so we are asking our middle school and elementary school kids to wear a mask,” Coffman said. “We are trying to get through this winter. In March, if the numbers look like they are going the other way, we will drop the mask mandate. We don’t want to be in masks either but if it allows us to have activities and allows us to have school and allows us to educate kids. It is one thing we are asking graciously for our community to support.”

Coffman stated they will allow medical exemptions for students and will discuss with administration and building principals when the need arises for an exemption for any particular student.

“If there is any medical condition, we are asking those individuals to talk with the principals and we will make some concessions on some things that we feel like is a necessity for the kids and their health and wellbeing,” Coffman said. “We will do everything we can to protect our kids like we have always done and will continue to do. Our kids will be the number one focus. We are just asking to try and get through a time period that is going to be tough.”

Everyone entering the district will be required to wear a mask.

“If for some reason, in the community of Marlow, if our numbers drop drastically … and the science says we don’t have to have a mask, we will drop them,” Coffman said. “I also know that I have to wear that (mask) to protect … because I don’t want to give the virus to anyone and I don’t want the virus to be given to me. If something was to happen because I had the virus and I gave it to somebody that potentially it could be devastating to, it would be a terrible tragedy. We are trying to keep everyone as healthy as we can … As soon as we can get out of the masks we are going to get out of them.”

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