Hofmeister Seeks Approval for Distance Learning; Oklahoma Kids May Not Return to School This Year

Mar 24, 2020

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Oklahoma students are unlikely to step back into a classroom this spring as the state fights COVID-19 with massive school closures.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is proposing the State Board of Education approve a plan for Oklahoma kids to complete the school year through distance learning. That would keep schools closed the rest of the school year.

"We recognize this reality will present challenges for many families and districts, but these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures," Hofmeister said. "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."

Districts would be expected to start distance learning with services for English learners and special education students April 6.

Hofmeister said district's top priority is making sure seniors on track to graduate finish high school.

The State Department of Education is exploring how federal assistance could improve internet access for some districts. OETA, Oklahoma’s educational public TV network, will also provide help by broadcasting instructional daytime programming for the state’s PreK-12 students.

The state board will also consider a series of waivers, ranging from school calendars to loosening current restrictions on funds, to give districts more flexibility for distance learning plans.

The State Department of Education has secured federal waivers in the past week to suspend state testing and to allow delivery or curbside pickup of meals for the rest of the school year.

The board will vote on the proposal in a special, virtual meeting tomorrow.