Ray Carter | January 18, 2021

State agency seeks COVID data on at-home learners

Ray Carter

State data on COVID-19 infections among K-12 students will reportedly include cases that occurred among children who never attended school in-person and conducted their learning entirely online this year.

In a recent email sent to students’ families, Epic Charter Schools informed parents, “The State Department of Education has amended its previous policy for COVID-19 reporting to now include requiring schools to report COVID exposures and infections of students who learn virtually. This means that any EPIC student with close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, or who has themselves tested positive, will be asked to report this to EPIC so we may report it to the state.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health already maintains a public record of all Oklahoma youth ages five to 17 who have contracted COVID-19. As of data posted on Jan. 18, the share of COVID-positive cases among that age group represented 10.6 percent of all recorded cases in Oklahoma.

A spokesperson for Epic said the policy change was provided orally during a recent training conducted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education on COVID reporting.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education did not respond to a request seeking comment on why the agency has imposed the reporting requirement for virtual students.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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