Due to COVID-19 exposure, Pawhuska secondary schools will be virtual Nov. 13

Pawhuska’s secondary students are getting a virtual day.

On Nov. 12, officials with Pawhuska Public Schools announced that a member of the high school faculty tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the district to have all secondary students pivot to distance learning for Nov. 13 in order to sanitize the building.   

In-person instruction will proceed as scheduled at Pawhuska’s two elementary schools. Additionally, Nov. 16 will still be a district-wide distance learning day as originally scheduled.

Pawhuska’s announcement came on the same day that the state board of education voted unanimously to adopt a resolution asking local school boards to implement mask mandates in order to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The state school board adopted a similar resolution in July, but it lapsed on Sept. 30. Statewide, one-fifth of Oklahoma public school districts do not have a mask policy.

“It’s no secret that I’ve supported a statewide mask mandate in schools,” state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said. “I think we all understand the gravity of the crisis at hand.”

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, Pawhuska has 44 active COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 12. Statewide, 20,580 new cases have been confirmed in the first 12 days of November.

Climbing case numbers statewide have prompted several districts to pivot at least partially to distance learning in November, including Hominy’s Horace Mann Elementary School and all secondary students in Sand Springs Public Schools, Union Public Schools and Broken Arrow Public Schools.