Following a recent announcement from Superintendent Dr. Tom Deighan, Duncan Public Schools (DPS) will fall in line with the new health department quarantine changes announced last week.

The changes to the guidelines will allow people for return to school after a potential COVID-19 exposure.

Last week, an announcement from Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt indicated the COVID-19 quarantine guidelines had changed with the goal of getting students back in classrooms.

Under Gov. Kevin Stitt’s newest plan to keep schools open for in-person instruction, districts can skip the mandatory two-week quarantine for students and teachers who have had close contact with a COVID-19 patient as long as they’re following virus safety protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

While a mandatory isolation still will be required for anyone testing positive for COVID-19, for the first time anyone potentially exposed in the classroom can remain in school — as long as they’re not exhibiting any symptoms and their districts are following proper COVID-19 safety procedures. It does not apply to those who have potentially been exposed during after-school activities or during sports.

The policy shift comes as districts continue to grapple with how to balance in-person instruction with school safety. Hundreds of students and teachers have been kept out of school after coming into close contact with COVID-19 patients.

Initially, Duncan Public Schools asked for more clarity before implementing the plan when Stitt revealed the quarantine guideline updates.

"We asked everyone for a little patience as we confirmed information and planned how to address these changes," Deighan said.

Deighan said the policy change will provide two options for those in the district.

"We will still provide staff and students the choice to quarantine if they wish to do so," Deighan said. "We have identified two options under the new policy for quarantines in schools after potential exposures."

Under option one, if determined safe by Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), staff and students will be allowed to return after signing a document acknowledging the strict OSDH rules and requirements.

Under option two, staff and students may still choose to quarantine, however without any negative impact to absences, grade, sick leave or pay.

For more information about the policy, visit the DPS Update and Form to return at https://www.duncanps.org/Page/738 and the new OSDH Policy at https://www.duncanps.org/Page/739.

CNHI State Reporter Janelle Stecklein contributed to this report.

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