YPS officials not planning quarantine room option

Survey sent to parents about in-person learning

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From Staff Reports

The Yukon Public Schools district will not follow Mustang Public Schools in creating a plan for in-person learning for quarantined students, a school spokeswoman in Yukon confirmed Friday.

This week, Mustang Schools became the first district in the state to make plans for students under quarantine to attend in-person in a separate room on campuses.

The decision has drawn some criticism from lawmakers. The State Department of Health approved the option for districts.

Yukon Public Schools will not offer an “in-school quarantine option,” district spokeswoman Larrissa Lockwood reported Friday.

A survey was sent to families on Thursday and patrons will have the weekend to respond to the survey.

The survey asks questions about the options for in-person learning for the next semester.
Yukon Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth will give a public update on the survey at the Monday school board meeting at 6 p.m Monday, Dec. 7.

Currently, Yukon students are learning remotely with no in-person classes due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Canadian County remains in the red category for the number of cases.

Simeroth announced that remote learning will continue through the Christmas break.

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The district delayed the start of the school year but returned to in-person learning in September.

Remote learning, or distance learning, was announced after Thanksgiving break.

The district’s enrollment has gone up in recent months. The current enrollment is 8,241.

On Sept. 29 enrollment count from the district showed 8,206 students in Yukon grades pre-kindergarten to 12th. The district’s enrollment in August was 8,982 students.

The school board voted to return to in-person learning Sept. 16.

Meanwhile, the quarantining of students on school campuses has been criticized this week by state Democrats.

Several Oklahoma House Democrats sent a letter Monday to Oklahoma Health Commissioner Lance Frye after the state Department of Health decided to allow schools to quarantine students on site who have been exposed to COVID-19.

The letter, which was written by members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Education Policy Team, asked about the absence of data in justifying the mass quarantine of children, according to a news release.

“We all agree the best place for quality learning is via in-person schooling – but we cannot risk student and staff safety nor health for a study,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano. “This surprise decision feels like a plan which was developed in a vacuum with little to no input from experienced education professionals, nor with evidence to support its implementation.  Our children are not test subjects.”

The group asked who would supervise students in quarantine. Districts are already experiencing teacher and substitute shortages due to COVID-19, the letter states.

“We all want our children back in school and learning in person,” the letter said. “That is clearly not the main motivator here. The plan states that the children will be ‘supervised’ but does not require a certified teacher.”

Democrats also took issue with the policy’s holiday announcement.

“Announcing a major change in health and education policy with little to no input from the community, the day before Thanksgiving is not how a government dedicated to transparency operates,” said  Rep. Trish Ranson, one of the letter’s authors. “We need solutions that involve all stakeholders, as well as the science to back them up.”