During a special meeting Thursday, the Stillwater Board of Education voted to approve its return to school plan and guidelines for operations, as well as a school plan and guidelines for personnel with the first day of school just a few weeks away. The school start date of Aug. 20 was approved, as well as final approval for fall break to be held Oct. 15-16.
Revisions were heard to the school’s initial operations plan, which was approved previously with the exception of a requirement to have Pre-k and kindergarten students wear face coverings. Assistant Superintendent Dana Renner of the district’s re-entry task force provided a recommendation for students in the SPS system to be required to wear face coverings.
Renner said a survey was done with Pre-k and kindergarten teachers, which she said resulted in 76 percent in support of making face coverings mandatory for their students. She also said with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Department of Health recently releasing more guidelines, that it served to reaffirm the need for required face coverings for all SPS students.
Personnel guidelines for the school year were approved, which included a color-coded COVID-19 alert system that Superintendent Marc Moore said will still need to be fully ironed out as soon as possible. The alert system would be set up to allow SPS to make the best decision possible if a scenario arose that caused a recommended closure or switch to fully online learning. It would allow the district to keep track of the current situation and then react to make the decision deemed to be the most appropriate for the situation.
Kelly Rader, regional director for the State Department of Health for Payne, Noble, Kay, Pawnee, Osage, Lincoln and Creek counties, described what a scenario could look like for contact tracing when a positive case of COVID-19 has become known.
Rader said once an individual is considered a case, the person will be contacted. If a student were to become a case, the student’s parents would be contacted, and a teacher would be contacted to begin a contact tracing investigation.
“When you’re looking at a contact tracing investigation, if somebody is symptomatic, we look at their symptoms and then we consider that individual infectious two days before their symptoms began, so that’s really where that contact investigation starts,” Rader said. “We look at who was in close contact with that individual, and we will look at the whole picture.”
Rader also said there will be recommendations on potential quarantine scenarios for people who are exposed to COVID-19. She said after an individual is deemed a COVID case, they have to isolate. The period begins two days before the time they find out they are a case and then for 10 days after their symptoms have started or if they are asymptomatic, 10 days after their positive test.
The Board of Education will reconvene at some point next week to further discuss the final details of the operations plan and personnel guidelines.