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Seminole County made COVID-19 'red county', school district monitoring cases

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Online School

Seminole Public Schools was notified Friday that Seminole County has been moved to a "Red County."

According to Superintendent Bob Gragg, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association’s (OSSBA) COVID-19 map for the Oklahoma School Safety Protocol revealed this new development.

"This means that we were above 50 new positive cases over the past week per 100,000 county residents," Gragg said. "Seminole County has a population of just less than 25,000, which translates the 54 percent per 100,000 to an average of 13 new cases per day for the past week, and that is the actual average number that moved the county into the Red Zone."

Gragg said for now the district will monitor the situation and is planning to keep schools open until next week, but if there is a spread that's spiking or causing a gap in staffing then sites will be closed.

"We will be on high alert, and encourage students and staff to be prepared to take their school issued digital devices home with them each day, and bring them back the next day," Gragg said. "That way, if there is a reason to close a site, then they will be prepared."

Gragg said each site manages the devices according to distance plans and student age groups, and instructions will be provided by each building administrator if a teacher or student must go home.

According to Stephanie Killian, Chief COVID Officer and school nurse, all OSSBA protocols are recommendations for the district and don't necessarily require a district wide shut down.

"Everyday we are assessing not only our county numbers but our city numbers for active COVID-19 cases as well," Killian said. "Our county includes other towns, so we also take that into consideration."

Gragg said SPS wants to insure students are safe and getting the best education under the circumstances.

"We do want to keep the schools open for face-to-face instruction, and at the same time we want to provide guidance that encourages safe protocol for all students, employees and families, while we pay close attention to CDC and State Health officials recommendations," Gragg said.

Killian said the district will continue to the best it can to keep all its students and staff safe.

"Now that we are a 'Red County', we will continue to assess our COVID-19 cases and how they affect not our School System as a whole and each individual school site," Killian said. "We will stay in constant contact with the Oklahoma State Department of Health every day and review their recommendations for how COVID-19 is affecting our community."

For more information contact the Seminole County Health Department at (405) 382-4369 or dial 211.

People can also contact Killian for any questions or concerns.