Schools now able to implement optional in-school quarantine for students

Classrooms & COVID-19

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Department of Health has given the greenlight to a new option for kids exposed to COVID-19 to get back into the classroom.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Wednesday it is implementing an optional short-term policy change for schools with students who have been exposed to COVID-19.

“We feel confident that it’s a win for the schools who choose to adopt it,” said Dr. Jared Taylor, Interim State Epidemiologist.

Beginning Nov. 30 through Dec. 23, Oklahoma school districts now have the option to implement an in-school quarantine policy. That means students who were exposed to coronavirus will be able to participate in distance learning in a school supervised environment.

“We know that there have been great disruptions to our schools, to the classrooms, through the quarantines that have been implemented because of exposures in the classroom,” Taylor said. “We devised a policy that is optional for schools to adopt if they so choose.”

There are some guidelines the schools must follow, including a designated area to house the quarantined students in a socially distanced environment that is away from contact of non-quarantined students and staff. Quarantined students have to stay in that space at all times during the school day, except for restroom breaks and outside time. Quarantined students will be tested repeatedly throughout the quarantine and schools must be able to supervise the students.

“This is a quarantine policy for children who have been exposed. Any children who are known to be infected, who have truly tested positive will not be allowed into the school,” Taylor said.

Mustang Public Schools voted Tuesday night to implement the new policy. Becoming the first in the state to do so.

In a letter sent to parents on Wednesday the district says in part, “Under existing OSDH policy, students subject to quarantine may have lost many of the benefits schools can provide, including a safe environment with adult supervision, nutritional support, internet and technology resources, and easier access to instructor assistance.”

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister also weighing in– sending News 4 this statement saying,

“We understand this to be a limited and controlled participation that will inform future public health practice. Districts and families are eager to minimize learning disruption while maintaining appropriate safeguards.”

“We feel very confident that this will further our understanding of disease transmission within the classroom. It will protect the students effectively,” Taylor said.

The State Department of Health says the policy can be updated or refined if needed and they could make a new similar policy for the next semester if it goes well.

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