Edmond Public Schools will require students who are exposed to COVID-19 to stay at home going forward.
Wednesday, district Superintendent Angela Grunewald wrote to parents that students who are exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 will be required to quarantine according to CDC guidelines, marking a change in its policy.
To justify the change, the district is leaning on updated guidance from the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, which recommends mandating exposed individuals stay at home.
“Without that authority, we could not require quarantines, or did not feel like we could,” Grunewald said.
Previously, the district only recommended exposed students quarantine at home.
“What we’ve been doing is just letting parents know if there was an exposure in their classroom, which created a lot of confusion,” Grunewald said.
Exposure is defined as being with 3 feet of the infected person for 15 minutes or more if both people are masked. If unmasked, exposure is defined as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes.
“It’s about keeping everyone safe,” Grunewald said.
The district will be able to track the exact number of students who have been quarantined thanks to the new policy, Grunewald said, and will begin doing so immediately.
Wednesday marked the fifth full day of class for EPS. In that time, 150 cases of COVID-19 have been discovered. Grunewald said those cases likely originated outside of school because of the delayed onset of symptoms.
One Edmond parent welcomes the change in quarantine policy, and hopes the district will require masks inside all buildings to reduce the chance of virus transmission.
“That's better. That's not great, but it's better,” said Robert Fraze, a parent of an EPS middle school student.
Edmond Public Schools does not require masking in any buildings currently and has established a tiered system that can introduce face mask requirements based on virus transmission. The lowest threshold that could lead to a mask requirement is a 3.1% positivity rate among students, teachers, and staff at one school.
Fraze said at his child’s school, masking is not consistent among a significant portion of the student body.
“If one kid gets sick then it’s potentially going to be the whole school. Because it’s like the flu, it’s like chickenpox back in the day,” Fraze said. “We need everyone to be on the same page, be a team player.”
Wednesday afternoon, the district posted the positivity rate for each of its schools, which will be updated every Friday.
Ida Freeman Elementary School had the highest positivity rate in the district at 2.09%. Most facilities recorded a positivity rate of less than 1%.
EPS Director of Communications Susan Parks-Schlepp said the district’s COVID-19 response plan is subject to change throughout the year.