Photo caption: The Osage Nation campus in Pawhuska on April 27, 2020. CODY HAMMER/Osage News
The Osage Nation will reopen to the public on Monday, May 11, at normal work hours, according to an executive branch interoffice memorandum.
Emailed to Osage Nation employees on April 27 from Director of Operations Casey Johnson, the memorandum directs departments to implement precautionary measures that continue the current social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining separation between individuals of six feet apart and limiting the number of people from the public into a department at a time.
“Masks are not only authorized for wear but encouraged,” Johnson wrote. “Our elder and ‘at risk’ employees … remain the most vulnerable population and provisions should be made for them to continue to work from home … or in a more isolated area if possible.”
The Nation’s school, Daposka Ahnkodapi and Osage Nation Head Start will remain closed for the rest of the school year in line with Oklahoma public schools, according to the memo. The Wahzhazhe Early Learning Academies, or WELA’s, will open on May 11 “but extra cleaning and sanitizing needs to occur throughout the day.” Any child attending the Nation’s WELAs will have their temperature taken before they enter the facility. Their temperatures will be monitored throughout the day, according to the memo.
The annual summer camp, and all children’s outside activities and field trips have been canceled. Employees with children still in distance learning will be allowed to work from home until the last day of school for their child’s school district.
“This opening date is subject to extension depending on the COVID-19 virus behavior. Preparations to come back need to be made regardless of the return date,” Johnson wrote. “Any employee that does not feel comfortable returning to work may use PTO after coordinating with their director.”
Dr. Ron Shaw, CEO and Chief Medical Officer for the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center said there have been no new COVID-19 cases at the WHC since April 6 when they reported two positive cases. They have conducted 80 drive-thru COVID-19 tests since that time, and they have all come back negative.
“Recall that these were largely patients with no symptoms – the health department is testing only those with symptoms,” Shaw said. “We invited both types of patients though. We have tested symptomatic patients since mid-March but only two of those were positive thus far.”
As of April 27, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported three active cases in Pawhuska of COVID-19, and both Hominy and Fairfax reported zero active cases.
Employees also travel from Bartlesville, Tulsa, Skiatook, Ponca City, and Owasso to work at the ON campus in Pawhuska. The OKSDH reported that Bartlesville has 86 active cases, Tulsa has 61 active cases, Skiatook has 7 active cases, Ponca City has 3 active cases and Owasso has one active case.
The Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board has not released a reopening date for the Nation’s seven gaming properties.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt slowly began reopening the state on Friday, April 24.
The Osage News office will remain closed to the public until June 1, as approved by the Osage News Editorial Board.