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Sequoyah County students return to class for 2021-22

Thursday, August 12, 2021 - The 2021-22 school year is underway in Sequoyah County, and officials are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and ready to take whatever actions necessary to keep students and staff safe amid the pandemic.

Students returned to Brushy and Moffett schools Thursday, Aug. 5.

Moffett Superintendent Lance Stuart says there are currently no plans to add a distance-learning option for students at his school, but officials are prepared to make changes as needed.

Teachers at other Sequoyah County schools reported for duty Monday, Aug. 9, and students return to class Thursday, Aug. 12.

The Sallisaw Police Department is urging residents to pay close attention in and around schools for students walking to school and for buses running their routes. The SPD says it will be enforcing traffic laws around schools, especially school zone speed limits. The department has issued the following guidelines for drivers encountering school buses:

*If driving behind a school bus, allow a greater following distance. This will give drivers time to stop once the bus's yellow lights start flashing.

*It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

*If the bus's yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic MUST stop. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children, so stop far enough back to allow them room to safely enter and exit the bus.

Gore Public Schools Superintendent Lucky McCrary said his school is continuing the COVID-19 protocols it had in place when school ended in May. “We will update our plans based on guidance from the CDC and local government,” he said Friday. The school has kept its distance-learning option available for the 2021-22 school year.

Officials from area schools, including Muldrow Public Schools Superintendent Clifta Fugett, say they will continue to require students to stay at least 6 feet apart and will extensively clean school facilities daily. Fugett said Monday that the school will not take students' temperatures this year, instead asking parents to screen their children for fever or other COVID-19 symptoms before sending them to class. Masks will be optional for students, she said.

“We will do the best we can,” Fugett said. Marble City Public School Superintendent Wade Stafford echoed Fugett, saying, “We are hoping for the best and taking it day by day. Flexibility and patience are going to be the key.”

Marble City will host a back-to-school bash for students and their parents from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13, where there will be an ice cream social, a student information question-and-answer session, campus tours and lots of fun and games. The Sequoyah County Health Department will be on hand offering on-site COVID-19 vaccinations.

Roland Public Schools Superintendent Randy Martin issued a statement regarding the return to school. According to the statement, distance-learning will be available for students, and the school has adopted other safety measures, including urging students to drink from personal water bottles rather than fountains. The school's water fountains have been modified to facilitate the filling of bottles.

Masking and other safety protocols will follow CDC recommendations, as well as guidance from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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