School enrollment begins soon

by Allison Weintraub

School enrollment will begin soon, signaling the beginning of the beginning of the back-to-school season in Pawhuska.

There have been a few changes in the Pawhuska Public School system, including how students enroll in classes, which is scheduled for Aug. 2-4. For the first time, schools have scheduled enrollment based on last name instead of by grade.

“Hopefully, by not segregating by grade, when a family needs to come enroll, they’ll only have to show up one time. Kind of a one-stop shop: get everything completed in a short amount of time and not spend a lot of time going to different buildings and students in different grade levels at different times,” Lauri Lee, Pawhuska High School principal, said.

Lee, who was the high school’s assistant principal for the past two years, will be going into her first year as principal. She said her focus this year will be on attendance and academic performance.

“We want to be punctual and really focus in on time in the classroom so we can improve our education in Pawhuska schools,” Lee said.

Parents should do certain things to help get kids ready for school, like getting students to bed earlier and waking them up earlier, to mimic what their schedule will be like during school, Lee said. Another way to get ready for school Lee mentioned was being aware of lunch time, as eating and drinking have to happen at certain times during the school day.

“Start working on reestablishing those routines earlier, so when you’re already adjusting to changes in teachers and workloads, you’re not also trying to get your body to cooperate,” Lee said.

Enrollment comes with certain requirements, like a birth certificate, immunization records and, for student athletes, physicals. This year there will be a new necessity for 7-12 graders: a $50 non-refundable technology user fee, insurance for the Chromebooks which will be distributed as part of the 1:1 initiative. However, if students aren’t up to date on their immunizations, they will not be allowed to enroll, Lee said.

Melissa Lovrich, coordinating nurse at the Osage County Health Department, said vaccinations protect “herd immunity.” Herd immunity protects those who can’t or don’t get vaccinated because vaccinated people are protected from easily transmitting the disease.

“The more we have of children who are not vaccinated because their parents choose not to, but also the children who can’t get vaccines or they can’t stay current with them due to a treatment,” Lovrich said.

Children in child care through the 6th grade have a certain set of required vaccines, which include shots against tetanus, polio, mumps and hepatitis. Children going into the 7th grade must get a Tdap booster, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health’s website.

The Osage County Health Department offers free vaccinations for Native Americans, Native Alaskans, kids that don’t have insurance and those on Medicaid. The health department will run a promotion with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where anyone with an up-to-date shot record enter a raffle for Thunder-themed prizes on July 31, Lovich said.

Lee said she wanted parents to come help with enrollment because there could be potential safety issues later in the year without parents confirming information.

“I understand parents have to work and it’s hard to come in, but that doesn’t seem important to a student. A lot of times they don’t know phone numbers. And who should be that emergency contact? Who would there parent want called if we couldn’t get a hold of the parent?” Lee said.

Lee said there are some other changes students should expect going back to school including: food/flower deliveries will no longer be allowed at any site, pre-K through 6th grade can no longer wear flip flops/open-toed shoes and each building will have a new security system. She said she’s very excited about working with the staff to achieve great things.

“I just feel really positive about our students are going to come in safe and secure, knowing what to expect, our teachers are excited about new things that are going to happen,” Lee said. “We just have a great environment to build on something and build a new era for Pawhuska.”