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NORMAN — Norman Public Schools will start its school year fully virtually, administrators announced Sunday evening. 

In a letter to parents Sunday, Superintendent Nick Migliorino announced that the district will push the start of instruction from Aug. 17 to Aug. 24 and will provide fully virtual instruction until COVID-19 case numbers start to decline locally. 

The fully virtual instruction will come from NPS teachers, Migliorino clarified in the letter.

The multi-option plan the district originally offered for the fall also provided access to virtual classes through a third company provider called Edgenuity. Any students who have already enrolled in Edgenuity and wish to stay in the program may do so, according to the letter.  

"My commitment to you is that this period of virtual learning will be significantly better than what we were able to provide in the spring," Migliorino's letter reads. "It is important to remember that we were abruptly thrust into an emergency learning scenario and while our teachers did their best, we are much more prepared for the fall.

"For months now, we have worked around the clock to ensure we would be in a position to provide quality virtual instruction for this scenario and are prepared to deliver a curriculum that is second to none."

Migliorino's announcement comes as Cleveland County and Norman continue to report significant COVID-19 numbers. Norman reported six additional deaths last week.

According to the letter, NPS will continue virtual instruction "until there is a decline in COVID-19 cases over a period of time." The letter notes that the district's decision was made on the advice of local epidemiologists and medical professionals.

The district is not alone in the move. Oklahoma City Public Schools has already committed to starting its school year fully virtually.

NPS' decision comes after parents, teachers and community members advocated for the district to delay the start of instruction until COVID-19 numbers dropped significantly and the district answered several concerns and questions.

According to Migliorino's letter, NPS will provide devices and hotspots to families that indicated upon enrollment that they do not have internet or device access at home. NPS also will continue its free meal service and plans to keep extracurricular activities running with precautions, according to the letter.  

"It is absolutely critical that we get students back in our buildings as soon as it is safe to do so, which is why we will continue working on our plans to phase in students and teachers safely into our schools," Migliorino's letter reads. "While this is certainly not how we wanted to start the school year, we must continue to listen to medical experts, err on the side of caution and do everything we can to protect our students, teachers, staff and community at large." 

NPS' Board of Education is set to meet at 4 p.m. Monday to approve the district's calendar for this year, hire a principal at Longfellow Middle School and more. The meeting will be streamed via the district's YouTube channel, though an in-person public communications section is on the agenda.

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