parent protests

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. 

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.

KOCO’s Porsha Riley reports that a parent’s petition for a return to full-time, in-person learning has been circulating online and has collected nearly 2,000 signatures.

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.

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.