Dickson summer activities postponed after positive virus tests

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

Dickson Public Schools has postponed summer activities after five students and coaches tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Superintendent Jeff Colclasure said school officials will reassess the situation after the July 4 holiday weekend.

The school was first notified of a student in summer athletics testing positive on Monday. Colclasure said the decision to put summer activities on hold was made that same day. He confirmed Wednesday that three students and two coaches have tested positive.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Regional Director Mendy Spohn said she has seen confirmed cases at schools in southern Oklahoma. She said schools that effectively manage health guidelines can manage to mitigate spread.

Contact tracers with the state will trace the individuals and their close contacts on a regular basis.

"If you were at a practice, what were you doing? Who were you around the most? Do you have a running buddy? Those are the kind of questions that we ask," Spohn said.

The district in May announced a phased introduction of summer activities that started June 1 with set occupancy limits and sanitation guidelines for various facilities. No more than 40 people were allowed in both gyms at any one time, and other limits were set for weight rooms and outdoor facilities. 

Even with more than 160 students and staff taking part in various summer activities, Colclasure said the number of students on campus at any given time was limited. "The 160 people we had up here [for summer athletics] was split up, it wasn't like 160 all at once," he said.

Adherence to guidelines that require equipment be sanitized every 30 minutes and face masks worn during close contact are helpful for health officials, according to Spohn. Also by limiting attendance to small groups, contact tracers can recommend quarantine to smaller populations.

"If they had allowed everybody to mix and mingle, you would possibly have more quarantined and more people exposed," she said.

The first phase of summer activity was scheduled to last until June 29, when the second phase lifted some mask and travel restrictions. Colclasure said the district would wait until at least July 6 before making any further decisions on resuming activities.

Even though the positive cases appear to be tied to athletics, Colclasure said the road portion of the school's driver's education class has also been postponed as a precaution. While students were able to complete some of the class online, driving portions of the class will also be reassessed next month.