July 27, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “For the Children” Weekly Column
Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: (405) 833-1117
For the Children: A Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, CEO – OICA
OICA Joins Medical Professionals Urging Caution with School Reopening
Virtual Heroes Ball Set for Friday, July 31
On Monday, the State of Oklahoma saw a record high of 1,401 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. With the surging numbers and impending return to school of many students, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is urging everyone to take caution and protect yourself as much as you possibly can, along with those around you.
OICA joined the GotMaskOK coalition to encourage Oklahomans to wear masks. If you are interested in learning more about this and showing support, go to the GotMaskOK campaign (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GotMaskOK/ and website: https://www.gotmaskok.org/) to be a part of this.
Also, OICA has aligned with Oklahoma pediatricians and family physicians to encourage safety and precautions before returning the school. The Oklahoma State Board of Education last week voted down a proposal to make masks mandatory for students who would not fall into specific health or learning categories, and instead opted for a recommendation to local districts and to allow them to determine policy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states a clear “goal of having students physically present in school” yet stresses that “this should happen with careful measures to keep students and staff safe, and with flexibility to adapt as needed to the community’s prevalence of COVID-19.” We hope local school districts will take these concerns seriously as they make plans for the classroom and activities. To read the AAP proposal, go to https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/ to see the recommendations.
Anticipating that Oklahoma would not be in a place to allow large gatherings, OICA shifted our annual recognition of Oklahoma’s champions for children, the Heroes Ball, to a virtual event with Postmates delivery of the banquet meals from local restaurants across the state. This event will be Friday, July 31, at 6 p.m.; we expect this will establish how nonprofits will hold events for the near future.
If you are interested in event details or how to model a virtual event for your organization, go to http://oica.org/heroes-ball-2020/ to learn more. If you are unable to join us for the banquet and would like to support our work, you can purchase raffle tickets for three items or bid on several silent auction items that will be available through the link on our website.
Precaution has also impacted another event in which we are proud to partner with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and First Lady Sarah Stitt’s office each year. OICA and several organizations rally together to help provide backpacks and school supplies for Oklahoma’s foster youth. We have great partners in this endeavor, including Feed the Children, Simmons Bank, and Youth Villages, working together to ensure these school-age Oklahomans and their families are prepared to return to the classroom.
The two events this year, one in Tulsa and one in Oklahoma City, will be held in the parking lots of large venues with large speakers providing the sound for the speeches and the movie which will be shown on a large screen so families can watch from the safety of their cars.
With the economy facing uncertain times, even with the improvements in the number of Oklahomans returning to work, we know that many are struggling to make ends meet. If you would like to assist with this event by helping sponsor a backpack, go to https://apps.oica.org/portal/donate-now-secure. There, you can help provide one of the more than 800 backpacks that we expect to give away over the first week of August.
Again, please wear your mask and protect yourself and others around you, including your family. We do not want to lose any more of our friends from this terrible virus.