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MPS, Health Department hoping ISQP helps understand transmission data

Mustang Public Schools’ data from their newly implemented in-school quarantine program will possibly be the first in the nation to inform decision-making.
Oklahoma Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye told members of the press at Mustang High School Dec. 2 that the program is not an experiment, as MPS’ COVID-19 data has been identified as one of the most developed in the state.
“We feel confident that this pilot will further our understanding of disease transmission in the classroom and protect our students effectively and keep infected students and teachers from entering the classroom setting,” said Frye. “It’s an innovative way to safely keep kids in school, so they can continue their academic studies, and will give us more data to drive our response to the virus.”
He, along with other officials, such as First Lady Sarah Stitt and Superintendent Charles Bradley, addressed concerns of many students falling behind because of quarantines at home alone.
Within the program, eligible students will be in a classroom with a supervisor, who will provide help if needed in their virtual classes.
Stitt said child abuse has increased since the pandemic arrived in Oklahoma in March.
“(Child abuse cases) are unreported because they’re not under the watchful eyes of teachers and administrators at school,” Stitt said.
She also said many students do not have access to technology, while some are also experiencing mental health issues at the same time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that beginning in April, mental health-related emergency department visits of children aged 5-11 and teens aged 12-17 increased 24% and 31%, respectively from 2019. The visits continued to climb throughout October, according to the CDC’s Nov. 13 report.
“If students are wearing a mask and they have effective contact of some type, so they are quarantined — what’s the rate of transmission?” Frye said. “No one has that information, so that’s what we’re trying to find. We want to know if it’s safe for kids to not be quarantined, or do they need to be quarantined.”
Bradley said MPS’ Board of Education chose the high school for the program because the students are on an A-B schedule.
As far as staffing goes, Bradley said they are still working on identifying staff and faculty who will be the “best fit” to supervise the students.
Regarding if other school districts will participate, Frye said his department has been contacted by others, who are interested, but did not provide names.
Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of the state health department, said MPS and any other school district that participates will be in constant contact with their county health departments, who will provide checklists for the program to ensure requirements are met. Some requirements within the program include maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing and wearing masks.
Regarding extending the program after the Dec. 23 deadline, Frye said they would like to be able to continue to collect more data.

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