Due to recent announcements and growing fear from the growing pandemic related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) I felt it was necessary to inform you of my efforts to keep the panic to a minimum and to monitor our situation locally.
Idabel Schools has been in contact with our McCurtain County Health Department and confirmed there currently are only three confirmed coronavirus cases in Oklahoma and zero cases in McCurtain County. The Oklahoma Department of Health is monitoring the three cases and all three cases are quarantined in their homes. (This means they are no longer in danger.) The other two confirmed cases are the two players from the Utah Jazz basketball team who were identified prior to last night’s NBA game versus the OKC Thunder. All NBA organization employees including players were tested and no other individuals were infected. No fans at last night’s event were ever in danger according to Oklahoma Health Department officials.
Governor Stitt, in his press conference today, recommended that schools stay in session. I personally am monitoring the CDC website and remain in communications with the State Department of Education. I have also asked district nurse Susan Ramsey to remain in contact with the local Health Department for updates. Your leadership team is monitoring the situation and will make decisions on any new information. We will be participating in a conference call with State Superintendent Hofmeister on Friday at 1:00 to get a statewide update and to help make any decisions for the future. If there are any changes over spring break your building principal will contact you. I will also put out updates on our social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
While OSSAA has postponed or canceled all OSSAA hosted events, they have left it up to the local district to make the best decision on our local competitions and events. As of right now, Idabel Schools will continue to have school and activities as normal as possible. However, I want to discourage any district-sponsored out-of-state travel until further notice.
Principals will have a leadership meeting on Monday after spring break to debrief and update ourselves, as a team, to any changes in our city and state. I have encouraged the principals to each have a staff meeting following to share any new information. Thankfully, we have practiced a Virtual Day. This is one of the scenarios we practiced for. In the very unlikely event we must close school due to a coronavirus confirmation in our district, each teacher will need to prepare at least 15 days worth of virtual lessons, just in case.
Closing schools will lead to the loss of much-needed resources for our students, including food and a safe place to be while parents are at work. I have already shared resources from the CDC and the WHO for preventing the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus.) Please encourage your students and families to follow these guidelines and be aware of your actions and surroundings as you travel over spring break.
I look forward to everyone’s healthy, refreshed return to school on March 23. Have a great spring break. I know I plan to.
Doug Brown, Superintendent