Oklahoma Schools Could be Given Bigger Role in Tracing COVID Cases

Sep 24, 2020

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The Oklahoma State Department of Health may let schools get more involved in tracing their COVID cases.

Interim State Epidemiologist Jared Taylor said outside of Tulsa and Oklahoma counties, the state health department has been doing the heavy lifting, but schools have said the agency is being too "forceful."

"We were taking those roles and responsibilities so the school didn’t have to, but to the extent that the schools seek to have those roles and be more proactive and responsible on their own right, we’re talking about ways that would — what they would look like and ways we can facilitate that," Taylor said.

Taylor said given current case numbers, the agency may let schools take the lead in concert with their local health department, including communicating information like quarantine guidelines, something that may be more effective coming from the local school

"We would provide all of that information, but we may be working with schools for them to disseminate that to the parents as a form of information rather than relying ton text messaging, which may end up going to the student’s cell phone, for example, and not be particularly helpful, right?" Taylor said.

Taylor said schools should be giving identifiable case information directly to their local health departments, not to other schools. He added because infected people are contagious before symptoms appear, quarantine is an essential part of any school’s plan to control the spread of coronavirus.