This week, Weatherford interim superintendent Steve Callen sent out a message to parents regarding COVID-19 updates and questions they may have going forward.
Callen said, “COVID-19 has added many firsts to us all. As educators, we have had to make a lot of adjustments as we work to provide our students the best possible education we can. My goal is to be as transparent as possible with everything. Please continue to respect the decision being made and the laws we are required to follow. Nobody wants to call a parent and tell them they are quarantined. However, school districts are obligated by law to respect and cooperate with orders of health officials.”
Callen’s message also included frequently asked questions to clarify how the district will handle COVID-19 cases.
Who is a “close contact?”
• A person who was within 6 feet of someone for a total of 15 minutes of more who has COVID-19
• A person who provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
• A person who had direct physical contact with a person (i.e. hugged or kissed them) who has COVID-19
• A person who shared eating or drinking utensils with a person who has COVID-19
• A person who has been sneezed on, coughed on or otherwise exposed to the respiratory droplets of a person with COVID-19
• Wearing a mask does not automatically keep you from being quarantined
What are the quarantine rules for a “close contact?”
A close contact in quarantine can return to school when they meet the following criteria:
• After day 10 without testing or symptoms
• After day 7 after receiving a negative test which was administered on day 5 or later
For example, if a student begins showing COVID-19 symptoms November 30 and tests positive on December 1, close contacts can return:
• December 8 with a negative test
• December 11 without a test
This example assumes the student who tested positive was not at school December 1. Quarantine periods are determined by the last day the positive student was in school, not the day they tested positive.
Does the school district decide who must quarantine or for how long?
No. State law empowers the state health department with the exclusive authority to issue an isolation or quarantine order. Health officials will determine the length of an isolation or quarantine period. With the large number of cases, the health department is asking school officials to help contact trace in order to speed up the process.
What is the purpose of isolation and how are days determined?
Isolation keeps someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 without symptoms away from others, even in their own home.
If someone tests positive, they must remain in quarantine until all the following criteria have been met:
• It has been 10 days since symptoms have appeared
• They have had 24 hours with no fever without the use of feverreducing medications
• Other COVID-19 symptoms are improving
One exception is the loss of taste and smell, which might persist for weeks and months after recovery, and does not need to delay the end of isolation.
How does Weatherford Public Schools track its COVID-19 numbers?
WPS has a district-wide spreadsheet which collects information from five site worksheets. Each school site has two or three people designated to enter information. When a positive case is reported to a site, the designated person enters the appropriated information (i.e. name, grade or position, start date, and return to school date) on the spreadsheet.
How does WPS decide who is notified when there is a positive test?
We never share names, but we do notify people we believe have met the definition of a close contact. It is important for people to understand WPS must abide by the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act. WPS does not identify individuals who aren’t determined to be close contacts.
What will determine when or if WPS goes to distance learning?
There are several factors which play into this decision:
• Is there enough staff to properly run the building
• The number of students absent
• State and local health officials making the recommendation
How is WPS handling the new restrictions on attendance at youth extracurricular events?
Four spectators/audience members per participant up to 50 percent of the building’s official capacity are allowed. The order applies to all Oklahoma public and private schools, so restrictions will be in place for out-of-town games as well.
District officials know is it important for students and their families to experience these important and memorable competitions and celebrations together. WPS is doing everything possible to support the Eagles while following the new requirement and continuing to place safety as a priority.