Oklahoma won't require masks in schools, so a teacher who's a 72-year-old cancer survivor is offering students extra credit to wear them

ichoi@businessinsider.com (Inyoung Choi)
First grade teacher Yolanda Vasquez (R) stands in protest along with other teachers and counselors in front of the Hillsborough County Schools District Office on July 16, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. Teachers and administrators from Hillsborough County Schools rallied against the reopening of schools due to health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July, a teacher in Tampa, Florida protests against concerns for reopening schools in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Octavio Jones/Getty Images

As schools prepare to reopen, one teacher in Oklahoma plans to offer extra credit to his students who wear masks in his class.

Lawrence E. "Train" Lane is a government and world history teacher set to return to school next week in Checotah County. As a 72-year-old prostate cancer survivor, he's highly vulnerable to the consequences of being infected with coronavirus, and offering extra credit to encourage students to wear masks in class for protection, he told NBC News.

"I would like to stay around a little longer," Lane said.

Related: What coronavirus stress is doing to your brain and body

In Oklahoma, masks are recommended — but not required — in many schools. In July, the State Board of Education voted down a mask mandate, leaving it up to local school districts to decide for themselves. 

Monte Madewell, the superintendent of the Checotah County public school district, told Insider that the district "strongly recommends" but does not mandate masks in schools. Madewell said the decision was made by the school district's board of education.

Oklahoma has a total of over 41,000 confirmed cases according to Johns Hopkins University, and nearly 600 deaths.

Lane is one of many teachers who have expressed concerns about reopening schools as the new academic year draws near.

Research and data show that schools are likely to be highly vulnerable to widespread coronavirus transmission. Despite these concerns for public health, the Trump administration has given little guidance, a former chief medical information officer for New York City Health and Hospitals, previously told Business Insider.

"We haven't had a lot of guidance at the federal level on any of this, specifically around schools," he said.



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