Rise in COVID-19 numbers cause Bartlesville school district to revise instruction plan

Another local school district is adjusting its instruction plans to accommodate rising COVID-19 case numbers.

Citing the anticipated increase in post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 cases, Bartlesville Public Schools announced on Dec. 3 that it is changing its standalone criteria for pivoting to distance learning.

Moving forward, if the City of Bartlesville’s seven day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases is more than 50 for every 100,000 residents and both the Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma regions are in Tier 4 of the state’s hospital surge plan for at least three consecutive days, the entire district will go to distance learning.

A region is considered to be in tier 4 of the state’s hospital surge plan if more than 40 percent of its staffed hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 cases. As of Dec. 4, both Tulsa and the northeastern Oklahoma region, which includes Osage, Pawnee and Washington counties, are considered at Tier 3. At Tier 3, at least 20 percent of a region’s staffed hospital beds are being used for COVID-19 patients.

The district will still have individual sites make the switch from in-person to distance learning if staffing or student attendance becomes an issue due to the number of positive cases or quarantines.

Meanwhile, officials with Wynona Public Schools announced that their district will continue in distance learning through Dec. 10. Wynona Public Schools made the switch on Nov. 27 after Osage County was classified as in the red zone under the color-coded alert system used by the Oklahoma Department of Education.

As of Dec. 3, Osage County remains in the OSDE’s red zone with 50.5 cases for every 100,000 residents. However, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association have publicly acknowledged that that figure is skewed due to a backlog of positive cases that were not added to the state’s reported totals until Dec. 4.