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Shawnee schools address community’s increased COVID-19 cases concern

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee students in masks.

Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. April Grace sent a letter to families Friday, Aug. 21 addressing concerns of a significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Pottawatomie County and its impact on schools.

According to Grace, after speaking with county health officials, the district became aware that the increase is due to a large number of positive cases of 104 at a local correctional facility.

“This is considered an institutional spread, rather than a community spread,” Grace said. “Despite the increase in positive cases, our county health authorities do not believe that our community is at any greater risk from COVID-19 than it has been in recent weeks.”

Grace explained for now the district does not see any reason to make changes to the current school schedule and implemented safety measures.

“To help us keep our community’s number of positive cases low, we ask that our families continue helping our students make safe choices,” Grace said. “Make sure you and your student(s) continue to follow CDC guidance.”

The superintendent said CDC guidelines include proper hand hygiene, practicing social distancing of six feet and wearing masks that cover the nose and mouth.

“As a reminder, besides our own safety protocols, the city of Shawnee does have a mandated mask ordinance in place,” Grace said. “This ordinance does apply to all of our athletic facilities both indoor and outside.”

Grace said masks are required at all times inside and outside if people can not physically distance themselves.

“Our best opportunity to keep school open, as well as extracurricular activities in place, is to follow these guidelines with diligence,” Grace said.

Going forward Grace said SPS will continue to monitor the pandemic, work with county and state health officials and notify families and the community if changes are made to the current learning plan.

For more information regarding the Shawnee district’s learning plan and safety policies visit https://www.shawnee.k12.ok.us/.

Check back for updates.

Note: The correctional facility with 104 positive COVID-19 cases is Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.