Oklahoma Schools Ordered Closed

Joe Denoyer - March 25, 2020 3:35 pm

The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted 7-0 Wednesday to keep school buildings closed and to implement distance learning plans for the remainder of school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person instruction and extracurricular activities are canceled, but “learning must continue,” officials said.

The board held a special meeting Wednesday morning after state Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced Monday that she would propose a continuous learning plan to the Board of Education to complete the school year for Oklahoma students without reopening school buildings during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Board of Education on March 16 closed public schools until April 6 to help reduce community spread of COVID-19.

Beginning April 6, districts will be expected to provide distance learning for the rest of the school year. District leaders will also provide assurances to the Oklahoma State Department of Education of a Distance Learning Plan and ensure services continue for English learners and special education students, according to officials.

The state Department of Education will provide distance learning frameworks and resources on its website in the coming days, officials said. In addition, the agency is exploring how federal assistance could help 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, according to officials.

While education will resume on April 6 with distance learning, there will not be traditional, in-person instruction or extracurricular activities. Districts will be expected to follow critical safety guidance from the Centers for Disease Control with regard to social distancing for students, staff and school families.

For the graduating class of 2020, each district will adopt a plan that establishes the assessment or assessments those students are required to take in order to graduate, officials said.

The U.S. Department of Education had already approved waivers requested by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to suspend assessments and Oklahoma School Report Cards for the 2019-20 school year. Hofmeister requested the waivers to help schools navigate the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


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