Multiple Oklahoma school districts require quarantine, isolation after State Department of Health clarifies guidance

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Multiple school districts across the state are now requiring quarantine after COVID-19 exposures and infections. This comes after the State Department of Health and Department of Education released a joint document to schools saying they had a “duty under state law” to keep students home for quarantine or isolation.

Oklahoma City Public Schools, Deer Creek, Mid-Del and Mustang all released updated quarantine guidance within a 3-hour span last Friday, citing OSDH guidance.

Although some districts called it new guidance, OSDH epidemiologist Jolianne Stone says it was just a clarification on their expectations for schools to follow the law.

“The state department of health has always encouraged and said it’s necessary,” Stone said. “The guidance that is put out did clarify that particular expectation.”

When KFOR asked what would happen if a school didn’t enforce a quarantine, Stone says the health commissioner can enforce it, but she reinforced the state fully expects school districts to abide by the guidance.

“What we’ve always stood by is that it is the expectation that individuals that are ill isolate, and individuals who are exposed quarantine in order to protect the public’s health,” Stone said.

Oklahoma City-County Department of Health Epedimiologist Eddie Withers says more school districts have started to reach out about changing their guidance.

“We’re definitely seeing a lot of schools come on board,” Withers said. “[State] Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister sent out something…with her pushing of information I think it kinda helped push the envelope.”

Withers says an increase in cases also resulted in some districts amend their protocol.

Deer Creek sent a statement to News 4 saying they amended their guidance after a rise in COVID numbers, saying they felt it was “necessary to take this proactive step to help reduce exposure and potential closure of classes and schools.”

For those districts that still aren’t requiring it, Withers hopes this recent release makes the expectations for schools crystal clear.

“It’s pretty obvious what has to occur,” Withers said. And if the wording is what’s throwing people off, I’m not sure at this point because I think it’s pretty clear, again between Superintendent Hofmeister, between our conversations, between the messaging we’re sending to the schools, it’s known what it is.”

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