'Do Whatever It Takes': State Supt. Urges Spring Break Caution Amid COVID-19

Tuesday, March 10th 2020, 8:45 pm
By: Storme Jones

With Spring break for many students less than a week away, Oklahoma education officials are urging extreme caution amid the global COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is about keeping our kids safe,” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said.

She sent a letter to school leaders across the state Friday urging students and staff that are traveling to a Level 2 or 3 country to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to school.

“If they are contemplating being in large groups of people, I think that is something that should be reconsidered,” Hofmeister said.

The state superintendent also said school leaders across the state will begin a weekly conference call with the department education on COVID-19 each Friday. She said that call will come each week after the department of education is briefed by health officials.  

“We will continue to stay in a position of receiving information and getting that information and guidance out to schools,” Hofmeister said.

“There are families that travel out of the country and even teachers and staff members would need to not return to school until they have been cleared with that two-week self-quarantine,” the superintendent said.

After returning from coronavirus hotspot areas, the State Department of Education says people should:

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  2. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your district before returning to work or school.
  3. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  4. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  5. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet).

 “All sorts of policies district policies, state level policies a variety of things relating to school accountability, all of those are factors that we can mitigate,” Hofmeister said when asked about the possibility of large amounts of student absences. “Right now, the most important thing is to underscore that all families and schools should do whatever it takes to keep their kids safe.” 

She also said school districts should respect a parent’s decision to keep their student from classes. 

“We want our schools to know that we support a parent's decision to keep their child out of school if they have a suppressed immune system as well,” Hofmeister said. “We want to respect what it takes to keep our students and our staff safe.”

Administrators at Mid-Del schools said a group of students are taking a trip to Scotland, England, and Paris over spring break.

While they said this is not a district sponsored event, it is district approved. They said the district is not canceling it because students would lose their money and the destinations are not on Level 2 or 3 alerts.