Moore Public Schools released additional details on its COVID-19 contact tracing protocol earlier this week, and also released information on positive cases within the district.
Since the MPS fall semester began on Aug. 13, there have been 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students and staff, according to an MPS spokesperson. According to the district’s “return to learn” plan, students and staff who test positive for the virus are required to quarantine for 10 days prior to returning to a district facility.
Additional details, including numbers of students and staff who have recovered or are currently under quarantine, will be available at a later date, MPS director of communications Dawn Jones said.
The district recently updated its “return to learn” plan to include additional details on how it handles positive cases. The following details reflect the district’s contact tracing and communication protocol.
According to the plan, on receiving notification of a positive case at a school site, MPS administrators and nurses immediately work with either the Cleveland County or Oklahoma County health departments to identify who may have been exposed to the virus through close contact.
The district determines close contact as anyone who was within six feet of an individual with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes, and is based on recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals who have been identified as being in close contact with a positive case are required to quarantine for 14 days, according to the plan.
The process of determining who may have been exposed can vary based on the individual who tested positive, Jones said. The district weighs factors like the grade level of the individual, if the individual is a student or staff member and the school schedule of the individual.
For elementary schools, the process is easier because of several changes the district made to the school day schedule for this school year, Jones said. One change this year is that elementary students do not switch classrooms like they have in the past, and teachers instead rotate to different classrooms in an effort to isolate classrooms and grade levels as much as possible, Jones said.
In each classroom, elementary students are also often split into “cohorts”, or small groups of students, which is also useful in determining which students may have been in close contact with a positive case, Jones said.
“We don’t have the kids traveling at the elementary level like they do at the secondary level,” Jones said. “It’s been a major mitigation effort to keep grade levels separate.”
For secondary schools, the process is different because students are more mobile, Jones said. When two high school students tested positive the first week of school, the contact tracing protocol used teachers’ assigned seating charts to determine who had been in close contact with the students.
Once the district and the health department complete the contact tracing protocol, the district verbally notifies and sends a letter to staff and students’ parents/guardians who may have been exposed to the virus to inform them of the district’s quarantine requirement.
At the secondary level, the district also sends a school-wide letter to notify staff and parents/guardians that someone at the school tested positive for the virus.
“We just feel that it is imperative to do a school-wide letter at the secondary level.. because it is not necessarily limited to one classroom,” Jones said. “So we want them to know that they were in the same place (as a positive case), but as far as the health department and our nurses are concerned, they don’t have to quarantine because they weren’t in close contact.”
At the elementary level, the district notifies parents/staff in the grade level where a positive case has been confirmed.
“If we have a second grade teacher (test positive), we know that’s going to affect all of second grade,” Jones said. “If a student tests positive, we still alert that entire grade level.”
Jones said the protocol doesn’t include contacting an entire elementary school site because schools have been adjusted to keep classrooms and grade levels isolated.
“Our thought process was we did not want to cause angst or stress in another grade level with the news when the truth is the student wasn’t around the student or staff member,” Jones said. “But if that ever happens, we make sure to notify everyone.”
Follow me @jcritt31