TULSA, OK – [August 5, 2020] – The Tulsa Health Department recommends that all Tulsa County schools – including public, private, early childhood centers, colleges and universities – follow CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of their students, faculty and staff.
Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of our community and play a critical role in supporting the whole child, not just their academic achievement.
“The more people a student or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk for COVID-19 to spread,” said THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart. “I recognize that circumstances vary by district and by school, and we support every administration doing the best they can to keep students safe. For some schools, that means virtual learning. For other schools, that means enhanced screening and cleaning protocols along with mask requirements and social distancing. The Tulsa Health Department does not have the authority to mandate what schools must do, although we are readily available to be a resource for local public health guidance.”
Since the beginning of March, THD staff have fielded questions from local school officials to provide guidance as school officials determine the best course of action to keep their students, faculty and staff safe. Schools can submit their COVID-19 safety plan for review and recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org. A THD representative will review and provide recommendations, where necessary, in a timely manner. Any guidance or feedback provided will be advisory in nature. THD does not regulate, approve, certify or otherwise make any guarantees about the effectiveness of the plan. The review is intended to assist school administrators in implementing the CDC recommendations.
Under the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Alert System, Tulsa County has been at the orange, or moderate, risk level since mid-June. OSDH defines the orange risk level as more than 14.39 cases per 100,000 residents, and indicates this risk phase means many COVID-19 positive cases are present in the community with undetected cases likely. OSDH will deem a county as red, or high, risk if the county reports more than 14.39 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and if the entire state of Oklahoma meets one of four thresholds within a given week.
“We recognize that in-person instruction is the best environment for students to learn, and everyone in Tulsa County can do their part to slow the spread so our students can safely return to school,” said Dr. Dart. “Wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.”
Parents of children returning to in-person instruction should plan for possible school closures or periods of quarantine. If transmission is increasing in the community or if multiple children or staff test positive for COVID-19, the school building might close. Similarly, if a close contact of your child (within or outside of school) tests positive for COVID-19, your child may need to stay home for a 2-week quarantine period. Parents may need to consider the feasibility of teleworking, taking leave from work, or identifying someone who can supervise your child in the event of school building closures or quarantine.
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 is encouraged to seek testing, and remain home while awaiting test results. Any individual who has been in close, prolonged contact with someone with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. The Tulsa Health Department continues to provide testing by appointment only.
For more information, please call the Tulsa Health Department at 918-582-9355 or visit our COVID-19 page.
• Oklahoma State Department of Education Return to Learn Oklahoma – updated August 5, 2020
• Oklahoma State Department of Health Public School Reopening Guidance – DRAFT
• CDC Schools and Childcare Programs
• CDC Colleges, Universities, and Higher Learning
• THD Guidance for K-12 Administrators