OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The State Board of Education unanimously approved an order that implements a Distance Learning Plan to complete the 2019-20 school year for Oklahoma students without reopening school buildings. The approval comes as numbers grow for positive COVID-19 cases in the state.
“Oklahoma has tremendous educators – strong, dedicated, tenacious and smart. We have faith and confidence that our districts and teachers are committed to creative and innovative ways to continue learning for their students, and they will rise to this challenge,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. “Distance Learning Plans will look different from district to district. Many districts have used online tools for some time and will be able to hit the ground running. Others have little connectivity and communities with little or no access to computer technology. I know the hard-working educators in our districts will pull together to make this adjustment to benefit all learners.”
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 (OSDE) of a Distance Learning Plan and ensure services continue for English learners and special education students.
“Our education communities are tough, resilient and committed. They know, as we all do, that we are all in this together. If this pandemic underscores anything, it is that we must help one another,” Hofmeister said. “We understand the challenges all Oklahomans are facing, and we know we can count on our schools to provide the best education possible in a way that ensures the safety and health of students and everyone in the school and community.”
OSDE will provide distance learning frameworks and resources on its website in the coming days. 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.
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 following 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.
The State Board took action on multiple waivers – ranging from school calendars to loosening current restrictions on funds – aimed at giving districts greater flexibility to respond to the needs of their students and communities.