OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The State Board of Education met Thursday morning for the first time since the majority of schools returned for the fall semester.
The Oklahoma Department of Education is tracking how schools are reopening, and helping prepare a statewide testing plan to be rolled out at all districts.
“We’re going to try to do every district in three weeks,” Adrienne Rollins with the Oklahoma State Department of Health explained to board members.
It’s the rollout for optional monthly testing of Oklahoma teachers and school employees directed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in Executive Order 2020-20.
Testing is expected to begin late next week, and will hopefully be available at big districts twice in the next 30 days.
Rollins said she believes rapid saliva tests may be right around the corner.
“We believe OSU may be making that available in the coming weeks,” Rollins said.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister addressed the recent visit to Oklahoma by White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx.
Part of her advice to state leaders was that masks should be worn at all times by teachers and staff except for counties that are green on the color-coded COVID-19 alert map, signifying very low spread of the virus with less than 1.43 cases per 100,000.
That advice was also part of an Aug. 13 statewide health alert.
“I hope that all of those school board members are paying attention to this health advisory, this public health advisory by the State Department of Health,” Hofmeister said. “This is something that must be monitored.”
Hofmeister said she also hopes that recommendation takes a hold in every school district across Oklahoma. According to a survey of 536 districts across the state, 35 percent don’t have any type of mask mandate in place.
When a board member asked how many of those fell in green counties, Hofmeister pointed out that in Oklahoma’s most recent COVID-19 alert map from Aug. 20, there is only one county in the green.
“It’s very unlikely those are in green, I would say,” Hofmeister said.
As for tracking outbreaks in schools, an OSDE spokesperson said after the meeting that there is no statutory obligation for districts to report positive cases, but the OSDE is in the process of developing a way to collect that information. School districts are legally obligated to prohibit someone with a communicable disease from attending school.
Continued Coronavirus Coverage
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