COVID-19 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question not answered here, please call our office or submit your question here.

CONTACTS, TRACING, QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION

  • A person who was within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period
  • A person who provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • A person who had direct physical contact with a person (hugged or kissed them) who has COVID-19
  • A person who shared eating or drinking utensils with a person who has COVID-19
  • A person who has been sneezed on, coughed on or otherwise exposed to the respiratory droplets of a person with COVID-19
(CDC guidance)
Contact tracing is the process public health officials use to identify people who may have had close contact with an infectious person. CDC Contact Tracing Guidance
Isolation keeps someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 without symptoms away from others, even in their own home. (CDC isolation guidance)
Health officials determine the length of an isolation period. Generally, a COVID-19 isolation period is a minimum of 10 days from the date symptoms started or, for those with no symptoms, from the date of a positive test. Those with symptoms may need to isolate for longer than 10 days. Symptomatic individuals should remain in isolation until after 10 days since symptoms first appeared have passed, and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medical, and if other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving. (CDC isolation guidance)
Those in isolation should stay home (unless in need of medical care) and separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available). (CDC isolation guidance)
Probably not. If the sibling is a “close contact” of the sibling who tested positive or is ill, then health department officials likely will order a quarantine for members of the household. If the siblings have not been in close contact, health officials will determine if a quarantine is necessary. (CDC isolation guidance)
Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. (CDC quarantine guidance)
Health officials determine the length of a quarantine period. Generally, the quarantine period begins on the date of last close contact with a person who has COVID-19. The quarantine ends 14 days after the date of last close contact. A few caveats:
  • If during a quarantine the person is in close contact with another person who gets sick with COVID-19, they will need to restart quarantine.
  • If the person in quarantine lives in a household where close contact with a person who has COVID-19 is unavoidable, the quarantine period begins on the date the person with COVID-19 ends home isolation and ends after 14 more days have passed.
CDC quarantine guidance
No. State law empowers the state Health Department with the exclusive authority to issue an isolation or quarantine order. Health officials will determine the length of an isolation or quarantine period. School districts are obligated by law to respect and cooperate with the orders of health officials. CDC quarantine guidance
Students asked to quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow any other directions from their state or local health department. CDC quarantine guidance
Yes. Current health recommendations do not require a “contact of a close contact” to quarantine. If the student in quarantine tests positive and the sibling meets the definition of a close contact, then health officials may require the sibling and/or other family members to quarantine. CDC quarantine guidance
No. Students and/or staff must stay home for 14 days after their last contact with a person who has COVID-19 and continue to monitor their health. Even if a student tests negative, symptoms can appear for up to 14 days after exposure to the virus. CDC quarantine guidance
No. Students and/or staff must stay home for 14 days after their last contact with a person who has COVID-19 and continue to monitor their health. Symptoms can appear for up to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Some students could contract the virus even if they have no symptoms so ending the quarantine early could expose others to the virus. CDC quarantine guidance
No. Heath officials recommend the person being tested and their household contacts should quarantine at home and away from others and monitor their health. CDC waiting for test results guidance

STUDENT ISSUES

When possible, yes. The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed that school officials will be contacted by county health officials as part of their investigation if the child attended school while positive. We encourage school administrators to communicate with their county health officials in advance to ensure they have updated contact information for the appropriate school representative.
The school is not required to purchase face coverings for students, unless a student is unable to provide one of his/her own. Best practice, however, would be to have them available for all students.
Yes. There is no legal prohibition that would prevent a school district from taking student temperatures or inquiring about other COVID-19 symptoms.* While the screening can take place on campus, many districts are asking parents to conduct health screenings at home before sending their children to school each day. *In general, districts would be prevented from taking employee temperatures as it is a medical examination. However, in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, especially during a pandemic or public health crisis, the district may implement procedures to control and restrict access to school property, activities and events.
If the virtual learning program is mandatory, the school may have to provide equipment and internet access for those students who do not have access. If the program is voluntary, the district probably will not be required to provide equipment and internet access.
The school district should continue to provide educational services to students via distance learning or a virtual learning program. If the student is on an IEP, the student’s IEP team must determine the new placement and decide which services are necessary to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
Districts may allow virtual students to participate in extracurricular activities, as long as they attend at least one class period on campus each day. This period can be the class for the co-curricular or extracurricular activity (such as athletics, band, ROTC or choir), if it is part of the school day. While it is not required, allowing students to participate in extracurricular activities is an excellent way for school districts to set their virtual program apart from other programs that do not offer students these opportunities.

EMPLOYEE ISSUES

An employee may qualify for federal emergency leave for up to 80 hours (two weeks) if they fall under one of the categories below:

(1) The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

(2) The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.

(3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

(4) The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).

(5) The employee is caring for their son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of the son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.

(6) The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Employees receive full pay for reasons 1-3 and 2/3 pay for reasons 4-6.

Federal emergency leave applies to both part-time and full-time employees but is limited to the equivalent of two weeks of leave for part-time employees. An employee only has to work one day for the employer to qualify for the paid leave. Additional information regarding how the FFCRA applies to school employees is available here. You can also download our infographic with FFRCA information for employees.
The FFCRA has added another qualifying reason for using job-protected FMLA leave. If an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, they are entitled to use their 12 weeks of job-protected FMLA leave (or the amount they have left for the year). The first 10 days of this leave would be unpaid, however, after the first 10 days the leave would be paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay for the remainder of the leave (either 10 weeks or the amount they have remaining for the year). To be eligible for this leave, the employee must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. Additional information regarding how the FFCRA applies to school employees is available here.
Some employees may be particularly susceptible to COVID-19, such as those with underlying health conditions, or those who may be in close contact with a high-risk relative. These issues should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but districts are encouraged to be flexible with use of sick and other available leave. Also, some of these cases may include issues covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). School districts are encouraged to contact their retained counsel for advice on specific issues that may be covered by the ADA.
If an employee refuses to wear a mask after being required to do so, the employee can be subject to disciplinary action and/or termination of employment in line with Oklahoma law and any necessary due process procedures. The school district has the right to require masks be worn in an effort to protect students, staff and the community.
If an employee has a chronic health condition, documentation should be provided by the employee’s physician. The district will need to determine whether the condition qualifies for coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act and, if so, whether a reasonable accommodation can be provided that allows the employee to perform their specific job duties for the school district.
Yes, an employee should notify the school district if they test positive. This will allow the school district to work quickly with the county health department in an effort to protect students, staff and the community.
Yes.* The information should not be shared with others, including other employees and should not be maintained by the school district as a record. *In general, districts would be prevented from taking employee temperatures as it is a medical examination. However, in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, especially during a pandemic or public health crisis, the district may implement procedures to control and restrict access to school property, activities and events.
Yes, requiring students to wear masks to protect an employee with a serious medical condition may be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Coaches, directors and sponsors receive a lump-sum stipend for responsibilities above and beyond their classroom duties. It would be difficult to pro-rate the stipend in the event of cancellations because they are not paid by the hour, by the game or by the practice. Because scheduling will likely be fluid during the school year, we recommend paying these stipends to coaches and sponsors and then assigning unrelated duties to them if their seasons or activities are cancelled or shortened, such as supervising students, monitoring online instruction, communicating with parents or addressing other unexpected needs that arise as a result of COVID-19. It is important that they complete extra responsibilities for the extra-duty pay.
Yes. District administration, in consultation with the county health department, should make the determination as to when an employee needs to quarantine. If an employee is sent home to quarantine, any leave made available to the employee may be utilized, including, but not limited to, paid administrative leave.
Yes. Notwithstanding the employee’s use of appropriate leave which may be available to them, an employee cannot refuse to return to work simply due to a generalized fear of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, a public school cannot legally pay an employee who refuses to return to work unless they have paid leave available to them.
The school is not required to purchase face coverings for staff; however, best practice for safety and employee relations would be to provide them.
If a teacher does not have internet access and internet access is required to complete his/her assigned duties, the district would be required to provide the employee with a mobile hot spot or other internet access alternative.

OTHER HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS

Unless local government guidelines prohibit gatherings of a certain number of people, back-to-school events are allowable – but not advisable. Because social distancing of at least six feet is recommended by health officials, it is likely these events will pose an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure to those in attendance. It also may increase cases at a number that will impact the ability to have school in later weeks. We recommend school districts consider alternatives, such as coordinating virtual events or having multiple events to host smaller groups at one time. 
Yes. A school district can legally control who enters school property and who has access to its students and staff. A school district may legally prohibit all unnecessary visitors to the school campus. We encourage you to communicate with parents and community members that this guideline has been implemented to protect the safety and health of students, staff and visitors.
Yes. A school district may require any on-campus visitor to wear a mask while on school grounds; however, special consideration should be given to visitors with disabilities who may qualify for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Under such circumstances, a loose-fitting scarf, face shield, or other accommodation may be necessary. 
School officials must protect the identity and confidentiality of students and staff members who test positive for COVID-19; however, we encourage you to communicate with your staff, parents and community when a case is relevant or may be perceived as relevant to their health and safety. It is best to be transparent. Open, honest and sincere communication helps school districts gain and strengthen the trust of their communities. OSSBA has developed templates to help with COVID-related communication needs. Additionally, you are welcome to contact our Communication Team for personalized assistance – Christy Watson, Director of Marketing and Communications and Amber Graham Fitzgerald, Director of Member Engagement.

FEDERAL FUNDING/CARES ACT

Yes. Section 2103 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides payment to states to reimburse governmental entities, like school districts, for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay for legitimate unemployment costs. Most school districts are reimbursing employers. Reimbursing employers do not pay a monthly unemployment contribution tax. Rather they make quarterly payments to the OESC based on the amount of benefits paid to former employees. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) is currently setting up a process to provide 50% reimbursement to reimbursing employers. The federal law does require employers to pay their balance due in full before receiving the 50% reimbursement. Employers will be reimbursed for benefits paid out starting March 15, 2020 and ending December 31, 2020. School districts will not need to submit a request or provide anything to the OESC for the reimbursement. As quarterly statements are paid, the OESC system will identify the amount eligible for reimbursement and a check will be issued for the school. The first round of reimbursements will be for the first quarter of 2020 and will be for benefits paid out for the last two weeks of March.
On April 7, the state Education Department received preliminary approval for waivers related to current-year Title I funding. The flexibilities include:
  • Waives 15% carryover limit for Title I, Part A.
  • Extends the time limit for spending federal funds. School districts have until September 30, 2021, to spend FY2018 federal funds. This waiver includes Title I, Parts A-D, Title II, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Parts A-B, Title V, Part B programs, and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth program.
  • Waives the federal definition of professional development. This change will allow districts to use federal funding for a broader range of professional development that meets your teachers needs in this unique time.
  • Waives the following Title IV, Part A provisions:
    • annual needs assessment,
    • content area spending requirements, and
    • technology spending limits.
The most important flexibility districts will have with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) stimulus funding, which includes more than $160 million allocated directly to Oklahoma schools based on the Title I formula. Districts will be able to spend the stimulus money to maintain operations, services and current staffing levels. Most education dollars are spent on people -- educators directly serving students and support staff who are helping in classrooms, interacting with families and ensuring our children are fed and safely transported to and from school. A major focus of federal stimulus funding so far has been to help workers keep working. The bottom line for schools is that your district can use the CARES stimulus money to help keep your employees at work, which is necessary to stabilize class sizes and educational opportunities. Districts can calculate their stimulus revenue at approximately equal to 83% of this year’s Title I, Part A allocation.
CARES stimulus funds allowable expenses
  • Maintain operation, services and staffing levels;
  • Coordinate preparation, prevention and response efforts related to the coronavirus with state, local and tribal health officials;
  • Equip principals and school leaders with resources to address school-based needs;
  • Deliver services to at-risk and minority students;
  • Develop and implement procedures to improve school preparedness and response efforts;
  • Train and offer professional development to staff on sanitizing and minimizing the spread of disease;
  • Buy cleaning supplies;
  • Plan/coordinate long-term closures, including meal provisions, technology for online learning and guidance for special education services;
  • Buy educational technology (including hardware, software and connectivity) for online learning for students. This may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment for students with disabilities;
  • Provide mental health services and supports;  and
  • Prepare and offer summer learning activities, including summer after-school programs and continuing services to at-risk and minority students.


GOVERNANCE

The board most likely has already delegated day-to-day decisions to the superintendent via the powers and duties of superintendents (OSSBA policy BJ).  The only decisions that cannot be delegated to the superintendent are those that are specifically required via law to be done by the board of education. You board can use this resolution to reinforce granting the superintendent emergency powers.
Yes. There are some responsibilities the board simply can't delegate. These include (but are not limited to) hiring employees, hiring contractors to perform services for the school district, encumbering funds not already authorized for expenditure and the approval of open transfers.
The administration may modify policy, subject to formal approval of the board at a future meeting.  These changes are often referred to as retroactive policy changes.   
Yes. State law was changed to allow more flexibility for board members to participate in a meeting via teleconference or videoconference, although boards can continue to meet in person. This flexibility expires when the governor's emergency order expires or Nov. 15, 2020, whichever is sooner. (OSSBA has an online, paperless meeting service that can help school districts and other public bodies streamline meetings, reduce paper, reduce person-to-person contact and enable boards to take full advantage of the proposed flexibility. Click here to learn more about Assemble Meetings.).

Return to Main COVID-19 Page