Community , Health

Osage County schools react to COVID-19 cases in their schools

Within the span of 48 hours, three Osage County school districts announced positive COVID-19 tests.

In a letter to parents and community members dated Oct. 5, officials with Barnsdall Public Schools announced a student at the district’s junior high tested positive. The announcement came exactly one week after two students at Barnsdall Elementary School also tested positive, prompting quarantine orders for students and staff at the Early Childhood Building.

On that same day, Hominy Public Schools Superintendent Doyle Edwards sent home a letter to parents, notifying them that at least one student has tested positive. The letter did not specify how many students or in what grades. However, the high school’s district football games originally scheduled for Oct. 9 at Chouteau-Mazie and Oct. 16 at home against Morrison have been postponed until further notice. Additionally, the junior high football game against Caney Valley originally scheduled for Oct. 5 has been tentatively rescheduled for Oct. 12.  

On Oct. 6, officials with Pawhuska Public Schools sent home a similar letter, announcing a student had tested positive, but declined to specify which site the student attends.

In the letter to Pawhuska parents, Superintendent David Cash said the student in question was not on campus recently, thus allowing the district to continue in-person instruction.

As of Oct. 7, none of the three districts have moved to remote instruction. Instead, all three have directly notified staff and families that may have been exposed and are working with the Osage County Health Department to initiate contact tracing.

According to data updated on Oct. 6, the Oklahoma State Health Department lists 18 active cases in Barnsdall and 19 active cases in Pawhuska. Hominy’s zip code has 259 active cases, including 111 attributed to the Dick Conner Correctional Facility.

On Oct. 6, officials with Pawhuska Public Schools sent home a similar letter, announcing a student had tested positive, but declined to specify which site the student attends. 

Since the impacted student had not been on campus recently, the district initially announced plans to continue with in person classes. However, 48 hours later, Superintendent David Cash announced that the district will pivot to distance learning Oct. 13-14 due to the number of students and staff in quarantine due to potential exposure. 

With all grades doing distance learning on Mondays this school year, no in person instruction was scheduled for Oct. 12. Like most Oklahoma districts, Pawhuska Public Schools was already set to be out for Fall Break Oct. 15-16. 

According to data updated on Oct. 8, the Oklahoma State Health Department lists 18 active cases in Barnsdall and 19 active cases in Pawhuska. Hominy’s zip code has 245 active cases, including 107 inmates and four employees at the Dick Conner Correctional Facility. 
 
 
[Editor's Note: This article was updated on Oct. 8 with additional information about school closures and football schedules.]