CN Head Start to remain closed another week
TAHLEQUAH – With a recent spike in COVID-19 cases recorded in Cherokee County that included a Head Start employee, the Cherokee Nation announced on June 15 that its Head Start at the Tribal Complex would be closed for at least another week.
“Cherokee Nation Head Start at the Children’s Village in Tahlequah is closed this week,” said Todd Enlow, CN chief of staff. “The classrooms were sanitized Sunday and will be swabbed with the tribe’s new COVID-19 tracing tests this week for additional safety measures, after a Head Start employee tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.”
The CN announced the closing of the Children’s Village Head Start on March 16 when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Oklahoma. Plans initially called for a reopening on April 6, but the Head Start has remained closed in accordance with the advice of health professionals with the CN, federal, state and local governments.
“The Cherokee Nation continues to work to ensure the safety of its employees and citizens is a priority, by enforcing safety guidelines at all Cherokee Nation worksites, and asks that all Cherokee Nation employees continue to wear masks outside of work, practice social distancing and use hand sanitizer as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Enlow said.
A limited reopening of CN casinos is underway, but tribal officials, including Hoskin, have stated that safety protocols must be followed at the venues and all tribal offices. Guests are physically separated and there is enhanced cleaning and sanitization. All employees and guests have their temperatures taken before entering a casino. Everyone must wear masks in any tribal workplace or casino.
The planned third phase of the Nation’s reopening is scheduled for July 6, when alternating work schedules will end. Those at elevated risk will still be asked to work from home or take administrative leave. Those who do not wish to exercise those options can return to work, but must sign a liability waiver.
However, a conference call was scheduled for June 18 with department supervisors and managers and the date to bring workplaces back to full staff could be postponed. Tribal officials, when the reopening plan was announced, said the opening could be delayed in light of any developments in the pandemic.
There has been a big upswing of reported COVID-19 cases since June 9 in Oklahoma. The state’s seven-day average on June 15 was around 150 new diagnoses per day, the highest since the beginning of the outbreak.
The hottest spot is Tulsa. City health department director Bruce Dart said the reasons for the rise are not clear, but they were the result of increased incidence, not increased testing.
Cherokee County, after hovering around 30 confirmed cases for a couple of weeks, had 48 cases on June 15, with 15 being reported since June 8.