Oklahoma faced intense winter weather this week that took down tree limbs, left more than 250,000 people without power and caused school cancellations.
Despite this freeze in the weather, the Oklahoma education news gears kept spinning to include a reported decline in enrollment at Tulsa Public Schools, 70 Oklahoma schools failing to submit vaccination data and an Oklahoma lawmaker who intends to seek the reorganization of public school oversight.
Catch up on the week’s education news with this coveducation recap of headlines from reporters around the state.
OKCPS changes schedule after winter weather
Oklahoma City Public Schools will see a change in plans next week after a historic ice event impacted the metro area, leaving many without power.
There will be no classes held Monday, Nov. 2. Students will not be required to attend classes in-person or log in virtually.
An asynchronous virtual learning day will be held Tuesday, Nov. 3. Teachers will load assignments into Canvas ahead of time and students will log in to complete assignments on their own.
On Wednesday, Nov. 4, OKCPS will return to it’s normal A/B schedule.
Curbside meals will continue Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Oklahoma lawmaker to seek reorganization of public school oversight
Reported this week by The Oklahoman’s Nuria Martinez-Keel, Dills said the investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools initially released Oct. 1 uncovered an “alarming breakdown” of checks and balances.
Dills is a member of the House Common Education Committee and successfully passed HB 1395 last year. The legislation affected financial reporting from virtual charter schools by requiring charter management organizations to report itemized invoices for management fees.
Many Oklahoma schools fail to claim CARES money
As of Oct. 28, fewer than half of Oklahoma’s public school districts had claimed their share of $12 million in federal relief funds set aside to pay for online courses and instruction for students amid the pandemic.
Reported this week by the Tulsa World’s Andrea Eger, of Oklahoma’s 530-plus school districts, about 250 have applied for the funds.
Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office will be looking for feedback from public school leaders to determine what would be the most effective way to utilize the unclaimed funds.
With only three days left to apply, fewer than half of Oklahoma’s public school districts have claimed a share of $12 million in federal relief funds set aside to pay for online courses and instruction for students amid the pandemic. #oklaed https://t.co/V63VCJ15wz pic.twitter.com/idXYxs86CA
— Andrea Eger (@AndreaEger) October 28, 2020
70 Oklahoma schools fail to submit immunization data
According to a report by Kathryn McNutt with Oklahoma Watch, new data is showing the percentage of Oklahoma kindergarteners who are up to date on all required vaccines is missing about 7,870 students because their schools did not submit the information.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health conducts a survey of vaccination coverage and exemption rates for children enrolled in public and private kindergarten programs annually. It uses the data to develop public health policy.
Participation in this year’s survey was down by 70 schools, with only four in five schools responding.
Oklahoma is one of 15 states that allow parents to cite personal reasons to exempt their children from immunizations.
Canadian County schools not altering plans after COVID outbreak at El Reno prison
School administrators in El Reno, Mustang and Yukon will stick to their current schedules despite a sharp increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Canadian County thanks to an outbreak at a federal prison.
The Oklahoman’s Nolan Clay reported that the increase in COVID cases put Canadian County into the red on the alert system school administrators use to make decisions. The Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno saw 202 inmates and 15 staff members report positive for COVID on Friday, Oct. 23.
El Reno Public Schools told parents that “after consulting with officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and Oklahoma State Department of Health, we were advised to stay the course we are on in response to the virus.”
Tulsa Public Schools’ enrollment rate declines
Tulsa Public Schools has 3,000 fewer students than it did last year. The decrease is largely being attributed to COVID-19.
The Tulsa World’s Kyle Hinchey reported that administrators originally projected a loss of about 700 students between October 2019 and October 2020, in line with enrollment trends from the past decade. However, the number of departing students fell just short of 3,000 — nearly three times the average over the past three years.
As of Oct. 1, the district’s enrollment is 32,323 compared to 35,298 the previous year. Enrollment figures do not include TPS-sponsored charter schools or early childhood partners such as CAP Tulsa.
Oklahoma education tweets of the week
Secretary Betsy DeVos said this week that prohibiting religiously affiliated charter schools is unconstitutional, and she'll focus on expanding these schools if Trump is reelected. I wonder how that will impact #oklaed school proposals like this one. https://t.co/uwZkySKghg
— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) October 30, 2020
— The Oklahoman (@TheOklahoman_) October 29, 2020
— Andrea Sifers (@SifersAndrea) October 26, 2020