An Oklahoma high school teacher points to state lawmakers and the governor as the reason he tested positive for COVID-19. He cited Senate Bill 658 which bans mask warrants in schools.
The Putnam City Schools teacher said he and his family had taken every precaution over the past 18 months to avoid the virus.
Educator Aaron Baker said after walking through the mostly unmasked hallways last week he started to experience symptoms and then tested positive for COVID.
“The problem for me, and all the blame lies with lawmakers, especially the governor, who is behind the legislation,” Baker said.
Baker left his Putnam City High School classroom on Friday with a sore throat and mild cough and tested positive for COVID on Saturday.
He blames SB 658, which prohibits school districts from implementing district-wide mask warrants as the reason he was first infected.
“A large part of me was very anxious to return to class five days a week. It was literally my first time teaching five days since March 2020,” said Baker. “It probably happened inside my classroom because most of the other interactions are very short, but no one in my class is to blame.”
Baker expressed his grievances in a blog post titled “Oklahoma Senate Bill 658 Gave Me COVID-19“where he said the SB 658 creates an occupational hazard for school employees statewide.
“I remember coughing behind my mask in my class on Friday. I’m just so thankful that all the times I remember feeling that cough at school on Friday I had this mask on,” Baker said. “I just didn’t think it would be me, and I didn’t think it would be so soon.”
The law, which came into effect on July 1, said districts can only impose masks if Gov. Kevin Stitt declares a state of emergency. Most districts encourage masks for students and staff.
“But when you use a word like encourage, that makes it an option,” Baker said. “I firmly believe that most people are rule followers, and if we had the option of having a mask warrant, our students would follow that like they did last year.”
Baker is expected to be back in class early next week.