Frederick Public Schools to move to distance learning for remainder of academic year

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The Oklahoma State Board of Education met on March 25, 2020 to discuss what the remainder of the school year will look like in Oklahoma.

The board unanimously voted to suspend in person learning and will move to distance learning plans beginning April 6 for the remainder of the school year. Realizing that much of Oklahoma is rural and students may not have reliable access to internet, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister and board members explained that each school district will have flexibility in what distance learning will look like for their students.

Hofmeister reiterated what she said in a press release before the meeting.

“We are determined to support our Pre-K through high school students as well as English learners, special education students and those who need reinforced skills or additional enrichment. We recognize this reality will present challenges for many families and districts, but these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. 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.”

“Beginning April 6, districts will be expected to provide distance learning for the remainder of the school year. How that learning occurs, Hofmeister said, will vary widely according to the capacity and needs of districts and their communities. 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.

“I have faith in the commitment, innovation and creativity of Oklahoma educators and administrators,” Hofmeister said. “Many districts across our state have utilized online instruction already and likely will be able to hit the ground running. Other districts have significant technology limitations, while some might opt for instructional materials delivered to students. There will be a wide range of approaches and it will be far from ideal, but necessary as we embrace these changes and even sacrifice to protect the public health of our communities.”

Hofmeister recognized the swift actions taken to approve emergency waivers by the U.S. Department of Education.

The board’s general counsel Brad Clark explained that this situation is fluid and the order can be amended at any time as the need arises. The board also approved other waivers and exemptions for the 2019-2020 school year.

Those include but are not limited to:

  • The school calendar. Oklahoma students are required to attend school for 180 days or 1,080 hours per academic year. The board voted to waive that requirement under these emergency circumstances.
  • Text book funds. The board voted to allow school districts to use funds allotted for text books for programs or things needed to set up for distance learning.
  • Six hour school days. The board voted to waive the requirement that students spend six hours per day on school related activities.
  • Requirements for seniors to graduate. The board voted to waive the CPR and physical education requirements for high school seniors to graduate.
  • Eighth-grade reading assessment. This item was tabled because the Department of Public Safety has a waiver students can submit that will allow them to obtain their learner’s permit without the reading test.

The board further approved emergency rules that will exempt Oklahoma Public Schools from assessments required by the Oklahoma School Testing Program as well as the determination of chronic absenteeism indicator.

Frederick Public Schools superintendent said they should have a set of guidelines by Friday, March 27, but as of March 25, they weren’t sure what distance learning will look like for them.

For more information, visit https://sde.ok.gov/.

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