McAlester students’ lunch debts on the rise

ADRIAN O'HANLON III | Staff photoMcAlester Public Schools students have rising lunch debts.

Randy Hughes said McAlester Public Schools needed a plan in case of a coronavirus outbreak in the district.

The MPS superintendent said rising concerns about the global respiratory disease outbreak led to the community illness plan school board members voted to approve during Monday’s meeting that details cleaning protocol and school closure scenarios if there is an outbreak at the district.

"We've just got to be ready if something happens," Hughes said.

The plan gives the superintendent authority to cancel MPS classes for three days if one student tests positive for coronavirus. If multiple students test positive for coronavirus, school may be suspended up to 10 days, the plan states. Both instances will call for the district to deep clean all facilities during a closure.

Hughes said anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will have to be cleared by the Pittsburg County Health Department or a doctor before they can return to campus.

The Centers for Disease Control is responding to the disease that was first detected in China, which reported 80,735 total cases and more than 3,000 deaths as of Monday evening.

Data updated Monday evening by the CDC shows 423 total cases and 19 total deaths in the United States.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the state’s first confirmed coronavirus case on Friday. Stitt said the patient is a Tulsa resident in his 50s who recently returned from a trip to Italy.

Coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath in most patients in 2-14 days after exposure. It can be more severe for the elderly, especially those with existing health problems.

Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the state’s education department will participate in the OSDH’s weekly coronavirus updates and will work to develop guidance on how it could impact schools.

The MPS community illness plan outlines procedures during infectious disease outbreaks based on recommendations from the CDC and OSDH.

Simple prevention tips in the MPS plan include covering a cough or sneeze with an elbow, washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and often, and recommending illness patients to stay home.

District-level functions like payroll, maintenance, communications and more will continue during a closure, the plan states.

Teachers can prepare students for home learning opportunities and the district will decide on the availability of free and reduced meals if schools are closed, according to the plan.

According to the plan, the district will determine if schools need disinfection measures and if staff levels are appropriate to reopen.

The superintendent’s office will develop a plan to make up lost school days if necessary, the plan states.

MPS also outlines disinfection protocol in the plan, which includes cleaning of routinely touches surfaces like stairway railings, door handles, computer keyboards, desks and more. The school will also increase cleaning frequency during illness outbreaks and will prioritize cleaning areas of sick students or staff.

Buses are cleaned daily by drivers at the end of each route and child nutrition staff must participate in safety training at the beginning of each school year, the policy states.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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