Oklahoma universities begin classes amid rising COVID-19 cases

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Classes at universities across the state have begun amid rising COVID-19 cases.

At OU, a mobile vaccine clinic is being held the first week of school.

Students Connor Engle and Christina Lee got their vaccines there.

“I didn’t want to be the reason for another COVID outbreak, because I feel like everyone wants to go to school in person,” Engle said.

Both citied family has a reason to get the shot.

“I think I’m protecting myself, and I’m protecting my family which is the most important thing to me right now,” Lee said.

OU is offering an incentive of drawings for game tickets and scholarships, similar to what OSU is doing.

“I think it’s a great incentive to get people out and get vaccinated,” student Cody George said.

Students have varying levels of concern about the virus.

“A little bit, with the delta variant, but it’s not a huge concern any more because I’m vaccinated,” Broady Heltcel said.

“I’m not worried about it, I already had it, and I got vaccinated,” Damon O’Neill said.

One parent says her daughter tested positive, but couldn’t get tested on campus because it was a weekend. She ended up getting an at-home test kit and is driving home to quarantine.

“I do encourage all the parents to think ahead and have some kind of plan,” Patti Scheurich said. “It’s kind of a scramble when it happens, so it’s better to be prepared for that.”

At UCO, they’re offering an incentive. If 50 percent of students get vaccinated by Oct. 1, they’ll get another day of Fall Break. If that’s 60 percent, then two extra days, and 70 percent, three extra days.

UCO says the percentage of students vaccinated right now is not clear because the official university census isn’t finished until September.

OSU says they’re now expecting masks to be worn indoors on campus.

All three schools say they have spaces set aside on campus for students who need quarantine, but some students choose to go home to do that.

Greek-affiliated housing is managed by other entities so the quarantine plan is up to them.

For OSU, contact tracing is done through a collaboration between University Health Services and Payne County Health Department. 

They there is one sorority that had several exposures and positives.

UCO says, “Students must self-report a positive test result or direct exposure the UCO COVID-19 Response Team at 405-974-2345, covid19response@uco.edu or by submitting the UCO COVID-19 Self-Reporting form. The team will then reach back out to the student with information and conduct contact tracing for any time they may have been on campus.”

OU says, “Students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 should notify those they have been in close contact with and complete the Healthy Together App to receive instructions for what to do next.”

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