Decisions being made by some Oklahoma school administrations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted student and parent protests.
The cancellation of this week’s extracurricular activities and athletics by Stillwater Public Schools was met with disagreement by some parents and student athletes. Community members in Edmond Public Schools as well as Deer Creek Public Schools have also made their voices heard this week in regards to their school districts’ decision to maintain their current blended learning models.
Catch up on the week’s #coveducation headlines with this recap of reporting from Oklahoma news outlets.
Athletic cancellations cause conflict in Stillwater
Stillwater Public Schools cancelled extracurricular activities and athletics this week due to COVID-19, leaving some community members unhappy.
KFOR’s Peyton Yager reported that dozens of students and parents made their way to the Stillwater Administration Building on Monday to protest the decision.
“Let us play. Let us play.”
Stillwater student athletes are chanting outside the Admin Building after the district announced Monday all sports were canceled for this week.
— Peyton Yager (@peytonyager) September 14, 2020
Parents were sent an email about the move to cancel activities this week after Superintendent Marc Moore determined COVID levels in the community were unsafe. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Payne County is a red zone for COVID-19 cases, and health officials are concerned that Stillwater is currently a hot spot for the virus.
Stillwater’s athletic director has said none of the district’s athletes has tested positive for COVID-19. Parents have reportedly reached out to a team of attorneys about the situation.
Del City and Bishop McGuinness cancel game
New positive COVID-19 cases have caused administrators from Del City Public Schools and Bishop McGuinness to cancel a football game that had been scheduled for today.
News 9 reported that two Del City football players and one coach have tested positive for the virus, prompting the cancellation of Friday’s game as well as football practices through Monday, Sept. 21. The school district has contacted members of the football team who may need to quarantine owing to potential exposure.
Deer Creek to continue blended learning model
Around 40 parents and students from Deer Creek Public Schools attended Monday night’s school board meeting to protest the continuation of distance learning.
KFOR’s Kaylee Douglas wrote that the Deer Creek Board of Education voted unanimously to continue its group model for students to attend in-person classes two days a week and remote classes three days a week until Oklahoma County can consistently stay in the yellow category for several weeks.
In order for pre-K through fifth grade students to return to classes five days a week, Oklahoma County would need to be in the yellow category for three weeks. A return for students in grades sixth through 12th would require the county to remain in the yellow category for five weeks.
Edmond parents split on in-person learning
Edmond Public Schools officials are continuing with their blended learning plan, sparking petitions from parents for and against this model of learning.
Edmond Public Schools has been operating on a blended learning model where students are split into two groups and rotate between virtual and in-person learning.
A counter petition has also appeared calling for the district’s blended learning model to continue.
Edmond Public Schools has said that they won’t consider a full-time return to the classroom until Oklahoma shows a consistent downward trend in COVID transmission.
Oklahoma breaks ACT commitment for class of 2021
In 2017, Oklahoma made a commitment to provide free ACT testing to all public-school juniors during school hours, however that has changed for the class of 2021 owing to state budget cuts.
According to an Oklahoma Watch report by Kathryn McNutt, after COVID-19 disrupted spring testing, the Oklahoma State Department of Education said they planned to use the $1.9 million budgeted for the spring test to provide it this fall. However, a $78 million budget cut that includes $5.4 million less for testing has changed those plans.
After learning of this decision, the Oklahoma ACT Council wrote Gov. Kevin Stitt requesting the consideration of using GEER money to pay for the testing. However, the governor has prioritized that money “for innovative new programs” and is currently not considering the council’s request.
AG opinion requested over CARES Act funding
The House Democratic education policy group has requested an opinion from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on whether Gov. Kevin Stitt acted within his authority when directing a portion of CARES Act funding to private schools.
Education Policy Group Requests AG Opinion on Ed FundingLetter Asks if CARES Act Dollars to Private Schools Is…
The letter sent to Hunter asks whether Stitt followed the 18003 (d)(f) directives in the CARES Act, which call for the funds to be used for the “providing of services to low achieving students” which “funds activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students.”
In mid-July, Stitt dedicated $10 million to what he called a Stay in School Fund for lower-income students who had previously been enrolled at private schools.
If Hunter says these funds were used incorrectly, the Democratic House group is requesting that the money be redirected and disbursed in a manner specified by Congress and President Donald Trump.
Read the full Associated Press article here.
Youngest OKCPS students will return to school sooner than anticipated
NonDoc reported this week that Oklahoma City Public Schools pre-K and kindergarten students will be returning to in-person learning on Oct. 19.
At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Sean McDaniel discussed the district’s “return to campus plan,” initially pitching Sept. 21 as the start date for these students. However, board members requested more time for students, parents and teachers to better prepare.
Some board members believed a Sept. 28 start date would be chosen, but district staff met privately Tuesday morning and decided on Oct. 19 as the date for resuming pre-K and kindergarten classes.
Oklahoma education tweets of the week
For a new component to this week’s coveducation recap, here are a couple tweets worth noting this week.
I spoke with a middle school teacher in OKC who said most of his students don't keep the video on when in virtual class. He said he doesn't press it because he views it as an equity issue and realizes many are uncomfortable with a camera on in their home.
— Ben Felder (@benfelder_okc) September 17, 2020
A5) My concern is that the education world will expect that equity in achievement will exist regardless of the challenges some of our recovering dropouts, or homeless students experience during this time. Maslow is even more prominent in the age of Covid-19 #OklaEd https://t.co/Z3MpK3ab5m
— Jack Reed (@jlreed2011) September 14, 2020
Today was our 1st official Genius Hour of the yr at @BuchananOKCPS! We had our students select topics based on their interests & our teachers had so much fun. Dog training, origami, yoga, dinosaurs..and so much more! What a great day! #OklaEd @OKCPS @TrinaResler @RedDirtRoss pic.twitter.com/wIOX4kNkWf
— Julianne H. Denton (@MsHenOKC) September 16, 2020