OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt announced new guidelines Tuesday for students to return to school in Oklahoma.
Stitt announced schools that enforce the use of masks and social distancing will not have to quarantine potential exposures unless they're showing symptoms.
Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye said the new guidelines are to keep teachers, students and school staff in school. This comes as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise in the state of Oklahoma.
“We need to put our students first, and we need to get them back in class,” said Gov. Stitt. “Refusing to offer in-person school is jeopardizing our kids' education; it’s jeopardizing teachers' careers; and it’s jeopardizing the future of the State of Oklahoma. Today, we’re announcing a new policy that will help us keep schools open safely. It will also help encourage and reward mask wearing in schools across the state. Moving forward, schools that enforce the use of masks will not have to quarantine students that were potentially exposed to COVID-19 unless they are showing symptoms.”
Frye said any students and teachers exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 in a school setting no longer have to quarantine, as long as the exposure was in a school setting, masks were worn, and proper social distancing was in place. However, quarantine is still required if masks and social distancing were not in place.
Any students, teachers or staff who do tests positive are still required to isolate at home.
Frye said the state is working on getting teachers age 65 and over-vaccinated, starting next week. The remainder of the teachers will get vaccinated as soon as it becomes available. In addition, the state is doubling coronavirus tests provided to schools to encourage frequent testing, and it's increasing masks and PPE to schools as well.
“As a physician, I follow the science, and it’s been critical to our COVID-19 response to do so,” said Commissioner Frye. “But it’s also important to look at factors on the ground, and schools have proven to be one of the safest places for most of our students. Other states such as Missouri, Utah and Ohio have put similar quarantine policies into place and haven’t seen large outbreaks occur in schools. This aligns with the trends we’ve seen in our own state, largely thanks to our parents, students, teachers and school administrators who have been doing an outstanding job following precautions and keeping our students safe.”
Frye added, “Data also shows—and the CDC recommends—that getting students safely back to in-person learning is critical for their educational success, mental health and social development. Our public health decisions need to balance all facets of health, and we’re confident this new policy will allow our students to safely thrive in the classroom.”
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