Dec. 7, 2021
OKLAHOMA CITY, (Election Wizard) — An Oklahoma judge found a school district’s policy of isolating healthy-yet-unvaccinated students is likely unconstitutional.
Oklahoma County Judge Don Andrews issued an order on Tuesday temporarily blocking an Oklahoma City metro school district from carrying out its policy of placing unvaccinated students into quarantine.
Starting in August, Edmond Public Schools, one of the largest districts Oklahoma, instituted a policy requiring unvaccinated students who had a “close contact” with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate at home.
Even if a student had no signs or symptoms of COVID-19, the school said a quarantine was necessary to prevent the possible asymptomatic spread of COVID-19. Fully vaccinated children were not subject to quarantine policy. School administrators said they implemented the policy after conferring with local health officials.
During a hearing in September, the parents presented evidence showing the district’s policy wreaked havoc on their students, especially those with special needs, while failing to reduce case counts within the school system.
In his order on Tuesday, Judge Andrews found the school’s policy caused “…a wide range or negative psychological and physical effects” on the students, pushing some to the brink of suicide, while hampering their ability to learn.
The judge said none of the children involved in the case tested positive for COVID, nor where they suspected of having spread the virus while quarantined. “…the policy of removing unvaccinated-yet-healthy children from the classroom provided no benefit in slowing the spread of COVID-19. The policy did, however, inflict tremendous harm on some of those students…,” Andrews wrote.
The judge said the school’s policy was “irrational” because it failed to balance any of the known dangers associated with quarantining children against the specter of asymptomatic spread. He found the school failed to justify the unequal treatment between students who were vaccinated verses those who were not.
He noted that fully vaccinated students were capable of spreading the virus too. “…there is no reasonably conceivable state of facts that can justify the differential treatment between vaccinated and unvaccinated students at issue here,” the order reads.
“When the pandemic began nearly two years ago, perhaps not enough was known about the virus to second-guess the actions of officials who were acting in good-faith to combat the spread. But as more has become known about the virus and targeted ways to respond to it, heavy burdens on constitutional liberties, especially those which overburden vulnerable children, warrant thoughtful judicial review.”— Judge Don Andrews
The judge recognized that in times of emergency school administrators must make difficult decisions, but he reminded school officials they “…must take the guidance they receive from health officials and craft protocols for their students that avoid offending the Constitution.”
Judge Andrews blocked the district from enforcing its policy until further notice.
Read the full order here: