Claremore Public Schools Superintendent Bryan Frazier said if the district doesn’t soon get relief from COVID-19, it will be difficult to keep the school doors open.
Rogers County has the 9th highest number of COVID cases per 100,000 in Oklahoma, Frazier said during the regular school board meeting Thursday.
The county has around 103.9 positive cases per 100,000, Frazier said. Will Rogers Junior High was forced to close this week due to staff being out either on quarantine or from testing COVID-19 positive.
“It’s not a great report in regards to where we are at,” Frazier said. “But we are where we are.”
The Junior High had 10 positive student cases and 95 students in quarantine the first week of 2022, according to the CPS COVID dashboard. Four staff members tested positive and 14 were in quarantine.
“It’s been a rough week,” Frazier said. “Last week was a difficult week as well as far as COVID cases and quarantines and the change to the CDC guidance over break made things even more complicated unfortunately.”
CPS’s Board of Education discussed and approved the new COVID-19 guidelines for the district at Thursday night’s School Board meeting. The changes come in light of the Center for Disease Control’s recently updated guidelines. Frazier said he has met with several physicians and medical professionals to try and make the guidelines as simple as possible.
“The school component [of the CDC’s guidelines] was pretty well written,” Frazier said. “but it has a mask component that makes it impossible for the state of Oklahoma to follow because it is against the law. There were a lot of those components by the way. At every turn it was, ‘We can do this, but we can’t do that so can we really even do it at all.’”
The new guidelines state if you are:
·Positive and symptomatic – Isolate for 5 days (days 0-5 from the date of symptoms). For days 6-10 from the date of symptoms, masking is recommended if symptoms are resolving. If symptoms are not resolving, continue to isolate. Monitor symptoms throughout the 10 days.
·Positive and asymptomatic – Isolate for 5 days (days 0-5 from the date of the positive test). For days 6-10, masking is recommended. Monitor symptoms 10 days from a positive test. If you become symptomatic at any point, isolate for 5 additional days from the onset of symptoms.
·Exposed and vaccinated – No isolation is recommended. Masking is recommended 10 days from the date of exposure. A test is recommended on day 5 if possible. For staff, they must test on day 5. Monitor symptoms for 10 days from exposure. If you become symptomatic at any point, get tested and stay at home.
·Exposed and unvaccinated – Quarantine for 5 days (days 0-5 from the date of the last exposure). For days 6-10, masking is recommended. A test is recommended on day 5 if possible. For staff, they must test on day 5. Monitor symptoms for 10 days from exposure. If you become symptomatic at any point, get tested and stay at home.
· Positive and participate in performance or sports activities – Isolate and quarantine according to the positive guidance. Monitor symptoms for 10 days from positive test. Return to full participation on day 11 if symptoms are resolving and no fever is present for 24 hours.
Some of the differences between the new and old guidelines are the shortened isolation and quarantine periods, the redefining of day 1 as day 0 and the redefining of vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Vaccinated is now defined as being within six months of both Pfizer or Moderna shots and having a booster or being within two months of a Johnson and Johnson vaccine and having a booster. Unvaccinated is defined as not vaccinated at all or having received Pfizer or Moderna shots more than six months ago and not having a booster or Johnson and Johnson more than two months ago and no booster.
Frazier said the school does not ask if someone is vaccinated or unvaccinated.
“As we put together protocols and procedures and we deal with parents and they say, ‘but my child is vaccinated’ I think it does matter,” Frazier said. “We can’t just ignore the fact that they are vaccinated, and the CDC has given us guidance on that.”
Frazier said face-to-face learning is preferred, and his hope with the new guidelines is to continue in-person learning.
“Is it perfect? Absolutely not,” Frazier said. “Does it have holes in it? You bet it does, but we want to do as much as we can to provide the safest environment that we possibly can.”
In addition to the guidelines, CPS put out a media campaign to search for substitute teachers. Frazier reported gaining 26 new substitutes, with nine already being on-boarded.
“This is an amazing testament to our community,” Frazier said. “My hope and my prayer is that we have gone through the brunt of the COVID surge and next week we will start to see some relief.”