Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister will recommend that state public school buildings remain closed for the rest of the school year while schools offer distance learning, the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced today.
By Hofmeister's recommendation, public school instruction would resume statewide April 6 through distance learning, which will not require teachers and students to meet in person. Extracurricular activities would not resume in person as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.
Hofmeister's recommended "Continuous Learning Plan" must be approved by the State Board of Education, which will meet virtually Wednesday.
"We recognize this reality will present challenges for many families and districts, but these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures," Hofmeister's statement reads. "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.”
The board has already approved school closures until April 6, but has not required that schools continue instruction between now and then. Norman Public Schools is using the next two weeks as an extended break during which teachers and students are not being made to do academic work or instruction.
Under Hofmeister's recommendation, school buildings and facilities would remain closed for the rest of the semester, but instruction would resume April 6 via distance learning plans that will vary by district. According to the Department of Education, "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."
NPS superintendent Nick Migliorino announced last Friday that the district has been preparing for extended school closures, and is working to develop a distance learning plan that will allow students to learn remotely.
The state has already received federal waivers that will allow schools to keep feeding students for free during closures.
NPS will start serving curbside pickup meals daily at each of its school sites beginning Wednesday. Pickups will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily; no proof of income or need will be necessary to obtain the meals.
Hofmeister will also recommend that districts prioritize high school seniors' ability to graduate this semester, and provide extra support for English learners or special education students. The State Department of Education is also looking into federal assistance options for districts that need bolstered digital connectivity.
Follow me @emma_ckeith