Students in Pawhuska public schools will enjoy a couple of days away from their desks next week. They’ll have Oct. 19-20 off for fall break.

Back in August, Pawhuska junior high and high school students experienced a nearly two-week delay to the first day of school.

The first day of class was originally supposed to be Aug. 17, but two geothermal wells were found to be purging methane gas.

As a precautionary and preventive measure, steps were taken to plug the nearby oil wells and to install a venting system designed to prevent any gas seeping into the geothermal wells from entering the school.

Janet Neufeld, district superintendent, said that the school board will examine how to make the time up at an upcoming meeting.

“At this point in time, we have seven days to make up. We will look at a variety of ways to do that. It’s a combination of serving the snow days and carving some time out perhaps on holidays,” said Neufeld.

“We are set to observe fall break, that’s a statewide observance and there are no changes to those dates.”

Pawhuska students are required to take 1,080 hours of curriculum in the academic calendar.

The plan to deal with the gas purging problem was developed jointly by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the Osage Nation Mineral Council, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Oklahoma State Fire Marshal provided a final inspection before the schools were allowed to open.

The Indian Camp Elementary and Pawhuska Elementary School began classes Aug. 28, after environmental testing showed there were no air quality issues or hazardous conditions at those two sites.

Indian Camp Elementary and Pawhuska Elementary School buildings house students in grades pre-k through sixth. Pawhuska High School serves seventh through 12th grades.