Owasso Public Schools begin new year during the pandemic

OWASSO, Okla. — Thousands of students returned to the classroom Thursday morning, including students in Owasso.

Sommer Baker’s oldest daughter Annalise began kindergarten at Hodson Elementary. She also has a daughter in preschool, 3-year-old Gabriella.

As COVID-19 continues to pose a severe threat to our community, Baker says she’s conformable sending her two young children off to school this year. She told FOX23, “I feel fine. I’m glad that our small kids don’t have to wear masks, it’s kind of hard on them to understand what’s going on. But, I’m confident that things will go well, and we support Owasso Public Schools and whatever decision they make.”

Jordan Korphage is the Director of Communications for Owasso Public Schools. He says that safety is a top priority for the district.

Per state law, masks are not required, but optional.

When I asked if the district is encouraging eligible students to get vaccinated, he said, “whether a child or a family chooses for their child to get vaccinated or not, again our job is to provide that quality education and provide the best environment that we can to further their education.”

If a student or staff member is infected with COVID-19, vaccinated or not, Korphage explained they have to spend 10 days out of school to return. No COVID test is required. “You’ve got to exhibit improved respiratory symptoms, and you’ve got to be at least 24 hours fever-free,” said Korphage.

Contract tracing will be used to backtrack who the student interacted with. Those who spent more than 15 minutes within 6 feet of the infected person will not be required to stay home. Rather, parents will be asked to closely monitor for symptoms and keep kids home if any show up.

Distance learning was made available for families during a summer enrollment period. Only 3 percent of students enrolled.

Korphage said there is no threshold that would push the district to resort to distance learning on a larger level. That decision would be made based on a variety of factors.