25 BHS students in quarantine as COVID sweeps Blackwell schools

by Jordan Green

A Blackwell High School student tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, and 24 students who were in contact with the student were sent home to quarantine.

Those students are believed to be members of the high school football team.

Blackwell Public Schools Superintendent Shawn Haskins told The Journal-Tribune on Tuesday afternoon that he couldn’t identify the students because of federal and state healthcare privacy laws.

“The only thing I can tell you so that I don’t get in trouble is that we had one positive and quarantined 24 kids,” he said.

The football team played against the Prague High School Red Devils on Friday night in a firstround playoff game at Wheeler-Huston Field in Blackwell. The Maroons lost 46 – 32.

A parent of a member of the Blackwell High School football team told The Journal-Tribune that school officials sent the team home Tuesday after one player tested positive for the virus.

Haskins said he learned of the new coronavirus case at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. That morning, he said the district hadn’t had a new COVID-19 case since Nov. 9.

Tuesday’s case leaves the high school with five active cases of the coronavirus, data from the school district’s website shows. Forty-one high school students are in quarantine.

On Nov. 9, the high school had six positive cases, with 60 students in quarantine because they were exposed to the virus at school. Some students who tested positive for the virus earlier in November, as well as students who were quarantined because they were exposed to the virus, have already returned to school in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s safety guidelines, Haskins said.

Two high school students who tested positive for the virus on Nov. 3 returned to school on Friday, and 43 students who were quarantined after being exposed to those two students were expected to return Tuesday, Haskins told The Journal-Tribune on Monday.

One high school student who tested positive for the virus on Nov. 4 returned to school on Monday, and seven students who were in quarantine after being exposed to that student are expected to return to school Wednesday, Haskins said. Most of the district’s students who have tested positive for the virus attend Blackwell High School.

At Blackwell Elementary School, one student has tested positive for the virus, and so has one staff member. Thirty-two students were in quarantine there.

Blackwell Middle School has no active cases of the virus. Haskins said that, under the CDC’s guidelines, students who test positive for the virus only have to quarantine for 10 days, while students who are exposed to the virus must quarantine for 14 days.

“If you test positive, you have to quarantine for 10 days,” he said. “If you are a second-party contact, which means you’re around somebody who is positive, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Yes, I said that correctly. If you have it, you get to come back faster. … That virus is only alive in you for up to 10 days, and then it’s dormant. It’s no good anymore. You can come back. If you’ve been exposed to somebody, and you don’t test positive, you have to sit out for 14 days because that virus can lay dormant in you for up to 14 days and then become active. But after 14 days, you can’t have it if you don’t show any symptoms.”

ABOUT THE NUMBERS

The number of students who are in quarantine may be higher than reported at some school sites, Haskins said. The district’s quarantine numbers only include students and staff who were exposed to the virus on school grounds.

“Our numbers only include kids who have come to school and we had to quarantine because they were in our buildings,” Haskins told The Journal-Tribune on Nov. 9. “We’ve got several kids out [of school] in the district that are in quarantine because, let’s say, mom or dad has it. My numbers do not reflect that. It’s hard to get those numbers. My numbers are kids that came into the school who were positive and we had to send these kids home to quarantine.”

While only one district employee has the virus, several employees are at home to take care of their children who are in quarantine, Haskins said.

“We have several teachers who are out because they have kids that were quarantined, and they can’t leave the kids home by themselves,” Haskins said.

WHO GETS QUARNTINED?

Haskins said the district is quarantining two groups of students. The first group is comprised of students who have the virus; they are considered first-party contacts. The second group is comprised of students who have direct contact with a student who has the virus; they are considered second-party contacts. If a student is within six feet for at least 15 minutes of a student who has the virus, the student must quarantine.

“There’s a lot of confusion that people think, ‘Well, I’ve got to send my kid home because they were around somebody, that was around somebody, that was around somebody, that was around somebody that had it,’” Haskins said. “We don’t trace it that way. We just trace it back to second-party contact. … If you’ve been around somebody [who has the virus] six feet or closer for more than 15 minutes, you are to quarantine for 14 days.”

School officials and county health officials will contact students who need to quarantine themselves.

“If you don’t hear it from the school or the county, you don’t have to quarantine,” Haskins said. Determining where students contract the virus is difficult, Haskins said. However, he believes that most students who have the virus have contracted it off school grounds.

COUNTY NUMBERS RISE

Kay County has more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, state health officials

reported Monday. As of press time, data from the Oklahoma State Health Department showed that Kay County had 1,307 cases of the virus, 278 of which are active. Officials said 1,009 Kay County residents have recovered from the virus, and 20 have died from it.

State officials report that there are 919 cases of the virus in Ponca City. Thirteen people there have died, and 733 have recovered. Blackwell has 148 cases, with 102 recoveries and three deaths, up one from the previous week. Newkirk has 123 cases, with 87 recoveries and one death. Kaw City has 25 cases, with 20 recoveries and one death. Tonkawa has 100 cases, with 76 recoveries and one death. Braman has three cases, with two recoveries and no deaths.

The state health department does not provide data on coronavirus cases in some of the state’s

smallest towns, including Nardin in Kay County. As of press time, the State of Oklahoma had 158,408 cases of the virus. Of those cases, 28,807 are active. Statewide, 128,057 people have recovered from the virus, and 1,544 people have died from it.

The United States has more than 11 million cases of the virus. More than 246,000 Americans have died from it, and more than 4.2 million have recovered from it.



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