DPS not to follow with OSDH’s in-person quarantine program

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Ava Miller

Presley Sanders and Sydney Miller work on their story about in-school quarantine, an idea pushed out by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

During Duncan Middle School‘s Thanksgiving Break, the Oklahoma State Department of Health issued information regarding a new plan for COVID-19 and quarantines for students.

The Health Department introduced the idea of in-school quarantining, an option Duncan Public Schools will not be implementing.

In an email from Duncan Superintendent Tom Deighan, sent out through Infinite Campus to students, teachers and parents, Deighan explained several reasons preventing Duncan from the pilot program.

“Like many of you, I was initially excited about the lessening of quarantine disruption, but DPS cannot provide in-school quarantining under the OSDH pilot policy,” according to Deighan’s email.

In the email, Deighan provided five bullet points about why Duncan Public Schools would not be able to implement the new program.

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One of the reasons was the fact that there is not enough time to get things set up and to hire stars, as the pilot programs only available until Christmas Break. If the school district applied for the in-school quarantining program, students would have to be tested eighth time over a 14-day period.

According to the email, these testing would be “excessively invasive for children, especially small children.”

The email also specified that the school district doesn’t have staff properly trained for the purpose of in-school quarantining.

“DPS staff do not currently qualify for OSDH staffing requirements regarding ‘appropriately trained personnel’ or waivers needed to participate,” according to the email.

The email also mentioned safety and confidentiality.

A screenshot of OEA’s Twitter shows the teaching organization’s response to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s pilot program for in-person quarantine.

“DPS cannot reasonably assure the safety of students or staff under these current guidelines (quarantined or non-quarantined). Unfortunately, under this program, quarantined students/staff may actually experience extended quarantines under these conditions due to current OSDH tracing guidelines. We have concerns for non-quarantined staff as well,” according to the email.

During Thanksgiving Break, the Oklahoma Education Association used its social media to speak out against the pilot program.

OEA President Alicia Priest said she thought the pilot program is a bad idea.

“A student or staff member cannot knowingly go to school when they feel ill,” Priest said. “Their symptoms could possibly be a result of the virus. In-school quarantines can be very dangerous to others.”