Governor Kevin Stitt, Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye, and Secretary of Education Ryan Walters held a press conference on Tuesday to provide an update on COVID-19 quarantine guidelines for Oklahoma schools.
The Governor announced that going forward teachers or students who are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not have to quarantine as long as that exposure happened in a classroom setting and all protocols were being followed. Those protocols include wearing masks, social distancing, and maintaining recommended cleaning measures. Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye says schools should continue to quarantine students if exposure occurs in situations where protocols were not followed. The change does not apply if the exposure comes outside of the classroom setting.
Dr. Frye also announced that vaccines for teachers over the age of 65 will begin this week and vaccinations will be administered to all teachers soon. The Health Department will also double testing and increase masks and other PPE for schools.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister responded to the governor's new guidelines, saying that while she agrees in-person school is critical, COVID-19 is still rampant in the state.
"The ramifications of the pandemic on education have been challenging and severe. While this option underscores the need for mask requirements in school, I cannot in good conscience support ignoring quarantine guidelines from the CDC and other infectious disease experts. There is no doubt we all want our students and teachers to be safely in the classroom, but COVID is raging in Oklahoma. In-person instruction is critical, and so is mitigating the spread of the virus. They are not mutually exclusive."