OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Friday it is returning to distance learning for at least two weeks and canceling indoor athletics amid a continued rise in coronavirus cases.
In an email to parents, district officials say they made the decision after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased from 15.8 per 100,000 population last week to 26.2 cases this week.
“Today’s report reminds us of how fluid our situation is, and, although we have done a considerable amount of planning in anticipation of what may come next, OKCPS remains committed to adjusting our plan as needed to help protect our students and staff,” Superintendent Sean McDaniel wrote in the email.
The district says outdoor athletic events scheduled for Friday and Saturday will continue as planned, but all indoor athletics are canceled immediately. All athletics and extracurricular events and practices will be canceled until further notice beginning Monday.
Oklahoma currently ranks fifth in the nation for the number of new cases per capita in the last 14 days, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Oklahoma health officials on Friday reported an increase of 1,276 confirmed new coronavirus cases and 12 additional deaths as they grapple with outbreaks at several state prisons.
The latest numbers bring the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 82,520 and the total number of deaths to 993. It was the ninth consecutive day that new cases topped more than 1,000.
The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The state’s Department of Corrections currently lists seven prison facilities as coronavirus “hot spots,” a designation that means at least 20% of the inmates within celled housing units test positive or 15% of inmates test positive within open-bay housing units.
Current hot spots include the Bill Johnson Correctional Center in Alva, Enid Community Corrections Center, Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester, Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington, Northeast Oklahoma Community Correctional Center in Vinita, North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre and William S. Key Correctional Center near Woodward.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reported 1,357 active coronavirus cases and 3,262 total cases as of Thursday with two confirmed COVID-19-related deaths and seven other inmate deaths possibly due to the virus, pending autopsies by the state medical examiner.
The department also said the deaths of three staff members may be virus-related, pending autopsies.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms 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.