Covid concerns being addressed at Duncan Public Schools

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 6:22 PM CDT
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DUNCAN, Okla. (KSWO) - Just weeks into schools opening, covid concerns are still one of the biggest topics at Duncan Public Schools.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Deighan said last year the health department was in control and a part of everything related to covid, but this year that is not the case.”

Last year, a combined 25-hundred students and staff were quarantined, at Duncan Public schools, with the help of state health officials.

“This year state health officials are no longer contacting schools and saying x-students have covid or staff member. And when we contact health officials, they are no longer telling us specifically how to quarantine an individual or group of individuals, and everything we know at schools is that information only comes from the state health department. Schools just don’t have the authority as I understand it to quarantine healthy individuals or to prescribe isolation and those other things,” Deighan said.

To his knowledge schools can only send sick people home or close their school down if needed.

Mendy Spohn is a Regional Director for the State Department of Health and is over Stephens County. She said she’s asking the schools to let officials know if they have problems working through a case to determine who was exposed. She said liaisons have been appointed to schools to assist as needed.

“For any schools in Oklahoma, the department of education has put out some fact sheets that have let the schools know where the authorities lie and how they can participate in the quarantine process. For all of the schools in our district, we are here to work through every individual case if they need us to,” Spohn said.

She said fully vaccinated people don’t have to quarantine, but they still need to monitor any symptoms.

Duncan Public Schools parents have been wondering why they aren’t being notified about their child being exposed.

Deighan said all of the information they were sharing last year was because of it being verified and health officials were telling them to.

“We only have self-reported information, so on any given day, Duncan Public Schools does not know how many people are in the building or absent because of covid. I hope parents understand that we are sending every single person that we are aware that has covid, home. We’re paying staff members to stay home if they have covid. We’re sending students have if they have covid,” Deighan said.

Spohn said there is a way for schools to keep up with cases on their own.

“They have an electronic process called single sign-on, that as they are made aware of a positive staff can enter that into single sign on, and calculate what the case quarantine would look like, and those time frames. There is an automatic letter or they are able to use the letters that we have.”

Spohn said things are similar to last year and they are wanting the district to inform people about exposure cases.

Deighan’s said his biggest concern is still authority, and not wanting to overstep any boundaries.

Both do encourage people who are sick or feeling sick to stay home and away from others.

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