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School districts throughout Oklahoma are back in session while adjusting to and dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ongoing tracking has confirmed COVID-19 cases at 200 school districts around the state, including the death of a staff member at Mustang Public Schools.

The following is a brief recap of reporting done by Oklahoma news outlets over the past week regarding the intersection of education and COVID-19, as well as other top education storylines.

COVID cases confirmed at 200 school districts

According to ongoing tracking from Robby Korth of State Impact Oklahoma, more than 200 school districts in the state are reporting cases of COVID-19. This includes more than 230 students, teachers and staff testing positive for the virus.

A spokeswoman with the Oklahoma State Department of Education told State Impact that the State Department of Health is working on a mechanism for school districts to report COVID-19 cases. Until then, however, the agency currently is not monitoring cases in schools, and it is unclear if they will publicly report them once the new mechanism is in place.

State Impact will continue to track COVID numbers in Oklahoma schools here.

Jenks Public Schools returns to in-person classes

Jenks Public Schools will be returning to a traditional classroom setting after starting their school year online.

According to an article by Kyle Hinchey of the Tulsa World, Jenks began the school year Aug. 24 with distance learning in place due to the high rate of COVID-19 community transmission in Tulsa County reported by the Tulsa Health Department, as well as recommendations from health and state education officials.

The district decided to make the transition back to in-person classes owing to local cases being “substantially” lower than they were in August.

Two teachers have resigned since the announcement was made, citing health concerns.

Read the full Tulsa World article here.

Mustang Public Schools employee dies from COVID-19 complications

A member of Mustang Public Schools’ support staff died this week owing to complications from COVID-19. According to an article by Nuria Martinez-Keel of The Oklahoman, the death was confirmed by the district on Wednesday.

Mustang Public Schools has been holding traditional, in-person classes while also offering virtual learning as an option for students. Mustang High School has been implementing a split A/B schedule for their students for the first three weeks of classes.

Read the full article from The Oklahoman here.

Epic Charter Schools going to trial in December

Martinez-Keel of The Oklahoman has also reported that Epic Charter Schools, the largest school system in the state, will be going to trial in December to determine whether financial records about how Epic’s management company used the schools’ student funds are public records.

The hearing, which is set for Dec. 16-18, will conclude a nine-month court battle over the “Learning Fund” records that Epic Youth Services claims it does not have to release.

Epic’s Learning Fund involves a bank account that pays $1,000 per student for use toward extracurricular activities, technology and supplemental curriculum. For several years, state investigators have looked into claims that Epic has used this fund to embezzle public money, although Epic has denied any wrongdoing.

Read the full article from The Oklahoman here.

Oklahoma Department of Education data system back online

The Oklahoma State Department of Education’s public school data system, called Wave, is back online after being inaccessible for two weeks owing to a hack.

Barbara Hoberock of the Tulsa World reported Friday that the system used by all 546 public school districts in Oklahoma was hacked two weeks ago. The system contains data such as attendance information, personnel information, calendars and other details.

School districts were given new login credentials after the problem was rectified Wednesday.

While the hacker reportedly defaced the landing page of the website and changed links for some of the icons on the page, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services said no data or sensitive information was compromised.

Read the whole story from the Tulsa World here.