Saturday classes for Oklahoma schools in case of 2nd surge
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department Department of Education on Thursday approved Saturday classes in case of another surge of coronavirus cases.
The board approved a plan starting in the fall in which Saturday classes will be counted toward minimum attendance requirements, which is currently prohibited by state law.
Health officials have warned of a possible second surge of coronavirus cases and state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said she wants schools to prepare multiple calendars for the fall, in case of another outbreak.
Oklahoma schools canceled in-person classes and moved to distance learning in mid-March as the virus spread in the state.
STUDENT FEES LAWSUIT
The parent of a University of Oklahoma student has filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education seeking a refund of a portion of student fees.
The university closed its campus and began online classes in mid-March as the coronavirus spread in Oklahoma.
The lawsuit filed last week by Christopher Eric Knox, which does not name the university, alleges Knos paid fees for the spring 2020 semester for “benefits of which plaintiff and his son will no longer receive.”
The lawsuit seeks class action status and seeks refunds of a prorated portion of fees that were paid for services not provided.
It does not seek tuition reimbursement.
A spokesperson for the regents, who oversee 25 public universities in the state, did not immediately respond Thursday to messages from The Associated Press for comment.
The University of Oklahoma said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation and is not a party to the lawsuit but that its priority is safety of students and the campus community.
“OU acted quickly to issue refunds for housing, food and parking, and provided individualized financial assistance to students,” according to the statement.
The Oklahoma Department of Health reported the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 41 in Oklahoma on Thursday with four additional deaths.
The department reported at least 6,270 cases and 326 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, up from 6,229 cases and 322 deaths reported Wednesday.
The department reported at least 5,236 people with the virus have recovered.
The case count is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Four Oklahoma tribes are being awarded a total of nearly $1.2 million to combat the coronavirus.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration on Thursday announced the awards.
They include $300,000 to both the Cherokee Nation and the Cheyenne and Arapho Tribes, more than $299,000 to the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and more than $295,000 to the Chickasaw Nation.
The funding can be used by the tribes to acquire personal protective equipment; pay for overtime and hazardous duties; building infrastructure; increase testing and the isolation of suspected COVID-19 patients; purchase mobile clinics or vehicles for transporting COVID-19 patients; and provide educational resources to help slow the spread of the virus.
Separately on Thursday, the Cherokee Nation announced a spending plan for $332 million the Tahlequah-based tribe has received in federal CARES Act funding. The tribe plans to spend $100 million to help restart tribal operations, including protecting its employees from layoffs, $100 million for various safety measures, including purchasing personal protective equipment and computer upgrades. It’s also spending another $100 million on community investments like food service operations, emergency services to help Cherokee citizens with utilities, rental and housing payments and employment programs to help citizens find jobs.