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Pawhuska Public Schools goes to virtual status during Fall Break week

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska Public Schools announced Thursday, Oct. 8, that only virtual classes would be offered Oct. 12-14, the first three days of Fall Break week. School was already scheduled to be out Oct. 15-16 for Fall Break.

The school district explained the move in a letter from Superintendent David Cash to the community, which officials made available online. In the letter, Cash mentioned numerous students and staff members who had been placed on quarantine status. These persons had been identified by the Osage County Health Department as having been "exposed to some degree."

"Due to the number of staff and students in quarantine, we will go to all virtual learning Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 12-14," Cash wrote. He clarified, however, that the district had not been notified as of Oct. 8 that any of the persons on quarantine status had developed symptoms of COVID-19, or that any of them had been diagnosed with the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Cash added that Pawhuska Public Schools will continue to follow "all COVID-related safety procedures," and he restated in the letter the numerous precautions that people in the community can take in an effort to avoid infection.

The move by Pawhuska schools to go to virtual learning status for three days this week followed closely on the heels of an announcement Tuesday, Oct. 6, that a student had tested positive for COVID-19.

The school district also notified the public of that development through a letter from the superintendent, posted online. 

The Oct. 6 letter said that the student who tested positive "was not at school for an extended period of time thus allowing all of our schools to remain open." The school district continued with normal operations following the announcement of the positive test, given that it had already disinfected any areas that the COVID-19 positive student had visited when last present on school premises.

By Thursday, the district changed course and decided to close its buildings to students and staff this week. The Pawhuska Board of Education was scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12. This was a regular monthly meeting, and not a reaction to the threat of COVID-19.

The superintendent's letter to the public also noted that extracurricular activities would continue this week, "based on school board policies and procedures."