1/22/2021 Message from McDaniel | Weekly COVID-19 Update
OKCPS Families and Staff,
What a week we have enjoyed together. On Monday, we took time to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. On Tuesday, OKCPS opened our doors to students for the first time in 2021, and on Wednesday our nation welcomed a new presidential administration, including the first woman Vice President and first woman of color to hold the office. I don’t think any of us will soon forget the words of unity and images from Wednesday’s inauguration ceremony, but in these challenging times the voice of our country’s Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, really stuck with me:
“There is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to BE it.”
OKCPS Return To Campus
As I mentioned, OKCPS welcomed a number of our students back to campus this week, filling our buildings with laughter and learning once again. Whether learning sounds and letters, multiplication and division, the history of US presidents, elements of the periodic table or how to write an essay, our students and teachers were finally able to do it together in-person again...and it was wonderful! We are grateful for the members of #TeamOKCPS and our leaders at the Oklahoma City County Health Department (OCCHD) who’ve worked tirelessly to make our schools as safe as possible, allowing us to work toward that goal.
We know many of our older students are anxious to return as well. After spending time touring our buildings with OCCHD leaders yesterday and discussing the latest data, OKCPS is moving forward with our plan to bring our 5th-12th grade students back in the A/B setting the week of February 1st and we encourage our families and staff to finalize their plans for a return to campus.
OKCPS remains committed to the health and safety of OKCPS students and staff, and I'm very proud of our OKCPS’ Six-Point Safety Plan. That said, now that some of our students have been back to school in-person, we want to highlight a few important safety reminders:
If someone in your household has COVID-like symptoms and/or has received a positive COVID-19 test, please DO NOT send your child to school. Keep your child home and contact the school to report this as a “close contact” exposure. The school will provide you with information about receiving instruction during a required isolation period based on the CDC guidelines OKCPS is following.
If your child is sick, has a fever or any other COVID-like symptoms, please keep them home and contact the school for further guidance.
Face masks that cover both the nose and mouth are required for all staff, students and visitors. A face shield may be worn in addition to a face mask, but not in place of one. If your child has unique circumstances that prevent them from wearing a face mask, please contact your child’s school to make accommodations.
While we are excited to have a number of our students back for in-person learning, we must do so safely and responsibly. We all have to work together and stay vigilant with our hygiene and safety practices. You can learn more about the district’s expectations for health and safety by visiting www.okcps.org/covid19 .
As you may have heard, while OCCHD continues with their vaccination efforts, OKCPS has begun working with Passport Health, a private contracted third-party provider, tomake plans for a closed Point of Distribution (POD) where we can make the vaccine available to OKCPS staff for free at a designated district facility. It is important to note that the vaccine Passport Health will make available to us is from a private source and is not part of the state-allocated vaccine supply. Our target date for the first OKCPS POD is February 12th. However, it is important to note that the date is 100% dependent on our access to vaccine doses via Passport Health.
In the meantime, we encourage anyone who meets the priority requirements to be vaccinated (age 65+, have comorbidities, etc) to go ahead and sign-up to receive the vaccine at one of the upcoming state/county vaccination events. The Oklahoma State Health Department has released an online portal that Oklahomans can use to register for a COVID-19 vaccine which can be found at https://vaccinate.oklahoma.gov/. If you’re having trouble doing it online or just need help, please call 2-1-1 for assistance.
Support & Reminders
The window to submit applications for one of our five OKCPS Application Schools is now open through March 5. Students interested in attending one these schools for the 2021-22 school year must complete an application online to be considered for admission. For more information or to start your application, please visit the district’s website at www.okcps.org/applicationschools.
OKCPS remains committed to supporting you in every way possible as we move into the next phase of our Return to Campus plan. Below are some resources for families and staff:
- 58-STUDY (587-8839) for academic support and 587-HELP (4357) for technical support, and our Student Services Team is also available for emotional support and crisis intervention at 587-0489.
- OKCPS Employee Assistance Program is available to district staff for emotional support, legal and financial guidance and much more at no cost.
- 2-1-1 HeartLine is open 24/7 for help with counseling, rental assistance, food pantries, affordable housing, health resources, child care, after-school programs, caregiver support, financial programs, literacy, and job programs. As always, please call 911 for emergencies.
- If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 2-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) for 24/7 support.
As we close out this historic week, I encourage you to take a moment to urge you to remain vigilant and follow all safety protocols. While I am deeply grateful to the district teams who continue to work tirelessly to create a safe environment for #TeamOKCPS and for our students, we know that our ability to return to campus is ultimately based on the choices that we make as a community. Let’s all do our part.
Thank you for your ongoing support of OKCPS. I will update you again next Friday. In the meantime, please stay safe, everyone.
Dr. Sean McDaniel
OKCPS Weekly COVID-19 Update
Today, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) indicates that the cases per 100,000 for Oklahoma County are 60.5, as compared to 94.4 last week, leaving Oklahoma County in the OSDE’s Red Alert Level. And, while we are pleased to see our case numbers declining, our entire community must remain vigilant and closely follow all safety protocols if we want our students to be able to remain in the classroom.
Each Friday, OKCPS reports the number of “self-reported” positive COVID-19 cases, along with the number of individuals who have been asked to isolate due to potential exposure to the virus.
“Close Contact” Exposure refers to the number of cases when a staff member or student was in “close contact” with a person who has tested positive for COVID and has been asked to isolate. “Close contact” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention occurs when an individual is within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days (or 48 hours) before the infected person’s onset of symptoms.
Self-Reported Positive Cases refers to the number of cases when a staff member or student has notified OKCPS of positive results from a COVID-19 test.
OKCPS employees who work at a school building (with the exception of SNS staff) should report a positive COVID-19 test or exposure to your principal and/or your school’s contact tracer.
OKCPS employees who work at the Clara Luper Center for Educational Services, the Operations Center, Student Support Services at Westwood should report a positive COVID-19 test or exposure by calling the district’s COVID-19 line, (405) 587-CV19. SNS staff members should also use the CV19 line to report a positive COVID-19 test or exposure.
Families should report student positive test results for COVID-19 or exposure to a positive case by calling their child’s school. The school’s designated contact tracer will provide instructions related to isolating and receiving instruction remotely during the isolation period.