OKLAHOMA CITY -- Several Oklahoma House Democrats sent a letter Monday to Oklahoma Health Commissioner Lance Frye after the state Department of Health decided to allow schools to quarantine students on site who have been exposed to COVID-19.
The letter, which was written by members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Education Policy Team, asked about the absence of data in justifying the mass quarantine of children.
“We all agree the best place for quality learning is via in-person schooling – but we cannot risk student and staff safety nor health for a study,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano. “This surprise decision feels like a plan which was developed in a vacuum with little to no input from experienced education professionals, nor with evidence to support its implementation. Our children are not test subjects.”
The group asked who would supervise students in quarantine. Districts are already experiencing teacher and substitute shortages due to COVID-19.
“We all want our children back in school and learning in person,” the letter said. “That is clearly not the main motivator here. The plan states that the children will be ‘supervised’ but does not require a certified teacher.”
Democrats also took issue with the policy’s holiday announcement.
“Announcing a major change in health and education policy with little to no input from the community, the day before Thanksgiving is not how a government dedicated to transparency operates,” said Rep. Trish Ranson, one of the letter’s authors. “We need solutions that involve all stakeholders, as well as the science to back them up.”
“People who quarantine are presumed to be ill,” said Rep. Andy Fugate. “That’s why they quarantine. It is irresponsible to place children and staff intentionally into environments where they are more likely to be around those who have Covid.”
The House Democratic Education Policy Team members:
Rep. Andy Fugate
Rep. Melissa Provenzano (chair)
Rep. Trish Ranson
Rep. Jacob Rosecrants
Rep. John Waldron