Teachers react to in-school quarantine

Mike Seals - November 26, 2020 11:46 pm

‘It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen’

Oklahoma’s skyrocketing coronavirus numbers has the state adjusting its student quarantine policies, but not in a way many teachers were expecting.

“It just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen,” said Jeffery Mosburg, who’s been an Oklahoma teacher for nearly two decades.

Mosburg is one of many educators speaking out against the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s recent decision to allow students exposed to COVID-19 the option to quarantine in-school.

“I think when you’re pushing to put people in smaller, often poorly ventilated quarters in person when you don’t have to, you’re asking for these infections to happen,” said Mosburg.

As of Wednesday, Mustang Public Schools was the only district to officially adopt the policy. School leaders argue a very low percentage of their students in quarantine were actually testing positive for the virus. They also say it allows students to isolate, while still getting access to school resources.

“The quarantine guidelines that we have now are extremely burdensome to our district,” said Mustang officials.

The policy is completely optional for students and schools, but Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest fears teachers won’t get the luxury.

“If your supervisor comes to you and says, ‘Hey will you volunteer to do that?’ what are you going to say? I mean, you’re being ‘volun-told’, it’s not a volunteer it’s a ‘volun-told,'” Priest said.

She also fears the benefits won’t outweigh the risks.

“They’re trying to collect data to see how much spread is done at schools and, I get that, but we shouldn’t be using our students and staff as guinea pigs,” said Priest.

Another problem is many schools went into the pandemic short-staffed. Coronavirus has only exacerbated that problem, making it difficult to expect teachers to take on additional roles.

“During a regular year finding [substitute teachers] was hard,” said Mosburg.

So, overall, most teachers agree the best thing for children is in-person learning five days a week, but some are unsure in-school quarantining is the way to make that happen.

“Everybody just needs to do what can be done to mitigate the spread of this virus, so that people can have what they want by making the numbers go down and stay down,” says Mosburg.



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