Ponca City Superintendent Shelley Arrott said the decision to mandate face coverings for all public school students was a difficult decision.
The decision came after a special meeting with the Ponca City Board of Education on Wednesday where they adopted safety protocols for instruction, health and activities.
Arrott said the protocols are correlated with the Oklahoma COVID-19 Alert System, which provides new data regarding the county risk level of a sevenday rolling average of new cases of COVID-19.
“Information is updated weekly and I will try to give you an update each Monday as to where Kay County is on the system and how that affects our protocols,” said Arrott.
“Obviously the big topic is the requirement of face coverings,” said Arrott. “This wasn’t an easy decision. None of us wanted to get to that point but with the cases on the rise we want to one, mitigate the spread for the safety of our students, staff and community, and two, we want to avoid intermittent closures due to quarantining.”
“We know people are on opposite sides of this decision and we can’t make everyone happy,” said Arrott. “But I want parents to know we will allow for frequent breaks from face coverings.”
Arrott said even adults have a hard time wearing a face covering all day.
“We know wearing them all day is not reasonable. Our teachers will get creative where they can create face covering breaks when distancing is allowed,” she said.
“We know that kids are going to take their face coverings off or lift it off to do this or that,” said Arrott. “We will just continue to remind them that every layer of protection helps protect everyone and helps slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Arrott said because of the board’s decision, some parents might want to change their learning options.
If students/parents would like to change from Learning Option 1 to Learning Options 2 or 3, or from Learning Options 2 or 3 back to Learning Option 1 due to this change, please refer to the make-up enrollment press release. It may be found at www.pcps. us, the Ponca City Public Schools Facebook page, or the PCPS App Notifications.
“Plans almost certainly will change as the school year progresses, and the Board could make changes to decisions at any time as new information becomes available and the situation continues to evolve. Thank you for your patience, and we will continue to keep you informed regularly,” said Arrott.