By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
EUFAULA, Oklahoma –The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Dormitory has made a decision regarding the recent COVID pandemic to follow CDC guidelines and not open the dorm housing to students for the first nine weeks or accept new enrollees for the school year.
Eufaula Dormitory Administrator, Tony York says they had originally planned to move the students back in the dorms before the scheduled start date of Aug 13; but that was not the case.
A meeting had taken place between York, Secretary of Education Dr. Monte Randall, and Secretary of Health Shawn Terry and his team to decide what was best and safe for students.
“A decision was made that it what not in our students best interest to open at this time,” York said. “We have made a deal with Eufaula Public Schools, and our kids that are previously enrolled at the dormitory are still going to be enrolled at Eufaula Schools and receive virtual learning for the first semester.”
The school has provided each student with a Microsoft Chromebook to aid in their virtual learning.
“Here at the Eufaula Dorm, we are going to try to fill in the gaps by providing hotspots so they will have Internet access. We are also going to deliver meals weekly to all of our students. Our athletes will still be able to participate as well and we will be providing transportation to take them to practice and back home.”
York claims that some students live as far away as Oklahoma City yet those students are not athletes and do not participate in sports.
“We only have six students who participate in sports that require daily transportation,” York said. “That’s pretty feasible and we do not have to run all of our buses with the small number of students we house.”
According to York, Dr. Randall had expressed concerns of the dormitory students being able to participate.
“We have been allowed to keep our staff on board to provide these transportation needs, to be liaisons for technology needs and providing lunches and breakfast for these students,” York said.
When it comes to behavioral health and counseling services normally provided, students can still receive those as needed.
“Counselors are still available to students or if parents need resources,” York said. “We have a wonderful behavioral health team here at the dorm.”
“We provide all their needs when they are residents at the dorm,” York said. “Even though we won’t be as directly involved we will still be available for resource and referral.”
The MCN Creek Nation Youth Wellness has also partnered with the Eufaula Dormitory to send out weekly handouts to the students concerning youth wellness.
“We are not able to take students directly to these particular appointments but are here for questions and referrals and to help in any way we can,” York said.
The Dorm also received a distribution of CARES Act money. They are using these funds to provide all the needs of the operations for the first nine weeks.
“Money has been used to provide each student with a hotspot and internet access, funds have been put towards the transportation services being provided daily by the Dormitory and the meals being provided,” York said. “It has been providing the technology for the staff that is teleworking. We are upgrading our HVAC system for when the kids come back in Jan, installing air purifiers, and providing PPE.”
The students have not been to the dorm since mid-March after spring break.
Although students and staff alike were excited for the return of the students to the dorms, York would like to show appreciation for the families for being understanding during this time.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Eufaula dormitory is a five-day residential care for Native American students from first grade to seniors in high school. The students who reside within the dorm setting typically come from, different areas of the state yet all students attend Eufaula Public Schools.