Some Oklahoma School Districts Thrown By Lack Of Statewide Policy On Safely Reopening

Jul 27, 2020

Following the Oklahoma State Board of Education's vote to not require a statewide COVID-19 policy, some Oklahoma school district officials say they're now being put in a tough spot.

"It's just much more difficult than anything I've dealt with in 47 years in the business," said Terry Davidson, finance director and former superintendent for Comanche Public Schools, of the pandemic, on a virtual meeting of the Oklahoma Schools Insurance Group on Monday.

"I think there were a lot of superintendents out there that assumed that decision was going to be made at the state level, and it was probably the only kind of defining information that we would have to get to work with," Davidson said. "And that didn't happen, so it put some people back at square one again."

"There's not a right answer, and it's just a real shame," Davidson said.

Asked on the call whether there was coordination going on between Tulsa area districts on when the first day of school would be, Skiatook Public Schools Superintendent Rick Thomas suggested there was not.

"I don't think there's any such thing as coordinating starting times right now," Thomas said.

Oklahoma City Public Schools have announced that the first day of school will be pushed back, and that once the fall semester does start it will be at least nine weeks of all-virtual instruction. The Tulsa Public Schools board has not yet voted on its plan for the new year.

The Norman Transcript reports that Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino said earlier this month that he's frustrated over the lack of top-down guidance from the state.

“We have created this framework...without what I would call appropriate direction and leadership from the highest levels of our state, and I’m just going to say that out loud: We really need guidance,” Migliorino said.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister spoke out against the vote in a statement.

“Today’s vote is very disappointing and one that likely will stoke more concerns for teachers, parents and families with a new school year only weeks away," Hofmeister said.

"Now that the board has made its decision, we strongly urge districts across the state to do the right thing and demonstrate the ‘Oklahoma Standard’ by masking up and following social distancing guidelines."