The spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and its emergence in the U.S. are prompting questions about its potential impact on workplaces, communities and schools. The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is closely monitoring this rapidly developing situation and is preparing regular updates for schools.
Although health officials are still learning about the virus, a number of resources are available now and are being updated as new information becomes available. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed
interim guidance for schools
that includes information on what to do before and in the event of COVID-19 being identified in the school’s community. I also encourage you to bookmark the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH)
web page devoted to the coronavirus outbreak
In addition, OSDE is participating in OSDH’s weekly coronavirus updates and has developed an internal working group that is collaborating with other education leaders to develop guidance and determine flexibilities in our schools and districts in the event that COVID-19 impacts Oklahoma. Those include:
- Potential school closures
- Attendance/Chronic absenteeism indicator
- Spring assessments and testing window
- Child nutrition
- State aid operations
As you know, the situation is receiving significant media attention, but there is no reason for panic. No confirmed cases of COVID-19 exist in Oklahoma as of this writing. However, flu season is still in process. The best response to any infectious virus is prevention. Make sure to encourage your staff, students and families to follow best preventive measures, including:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and do so frequently.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (60% alcohol or above) when hand-washing is unavailable.
- Avoid large crowds or travel to impacted areas.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and cough into your elbow.
- Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household detergent and water.
- If your staff or students feel sick, encourage them to stay home unless they are seeking medical care.
- Get this year’s influenza vaccine if you have not already done so.
We will send you additional guidance and information in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, the single best contingency planning lies within strong local policies and procedures. Because the virus has not yet reached Oklahoma, now would be an opportune time to revisit and strengthen any relevant district policies.
Thank you for prioritizing the safety and security of your students and staff. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction