According to state officials, Oklahoma Public Schools may remain closed for onsite instruction for the remainder of the school year due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister made the proposal on Monday and stated she will propose a plan for continuous learning on Wednesday at the State Board of Education meeting.
While the education of schoolchildren will resume with distance learning, there will not be traditional, in-person instruction or extracurricular activities, instead following critical safety guidance from the Centers for Disease Control with regard to social distancing for students, staff and school families, according to the press release from Hofmeister.
“We are determined to support our Pre-K through high school students as well as English learners, special education students and those who need reinforced skills or additional enrichment. We recognize this reality will present challenges for many families and districts, but these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. This coordinated, swift and thoughtful action will help safeguard the health and well-being of our communities, students and professionals in public schools. We must do absolutely everything in our power to reduce transmission of coronavirus," stated Hofmeister.
Beginning April 6, districts will be expected to provide distance learning for the remainder of the school year. How that learning occurs, Hofmeister said, will vary widely according to the capacity and needs of districts and their communities. Districts would start once they have provided assurances to OSDE of a distance learning plan as well as special services for English learners and special education students.
“I have faith in the commitment, innovation and creativity of Oklahoma educators and administrators,” Hofmeister said. “Many districts across our state have utilized online instruction already and likely will be able to hit the ground running. Other districts have significant technology limitations, while some might opt for instructional materials delivered to students. There will be a wide range of approaches and it will be far from ideal, but necessary as we embrace these changes and even sacrifice to protect the public health of our communities.”
She said the OSDE will offer a panoply of resources and guidance for districts to pursue distance learning. In addition, the agency is exploring how federal assistance could bolster digital connectivity for some districts. OETA, Oklahoma’s educational public TV network, will also provide help. In partnership with OSDE, OETA will broadcast instructional daytime programming for the state’s PreK-12 students.
Hofmeister noted the top priority for districts should be ensuring that high school seniors who are on track to graduate this school year receive the help they need. The State Board is expected to ensure district boards of education fulfill graduation requirements but in such a way that students are not negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Moreover, the State Board is poised to take action on a host of waivers – ranging from school calendars to loosening current restrictions on funds – aimed at giving districts greater flexibility to respond to the needs of their students and communities.
Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education granted waivers allowing the state to suspend standardized testing and Oklahoma School Report Cards for the 2019-20 school year.
We will bring you the live broadcast of the State Board of Education meeting on The Mix 105.1 beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
KXMX News Staff
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