The state saw some big news in the education world this week with an announcement from the State Department of Education that Oklahoma public school enrollment has dropped. The timeline for getting all Oklahoma teachers vaccinated was also found to be unclear.
In the coming week, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education will meet Monday, Jan. 11, and Epic Charter Schools’ board, Community Strategies, is set to meet Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Stay up-to-date on the week’s Oklahoma education news with this collection of headlines from reporters around the state in our coveducation recap.
Timeline unclear for teacher vaccinations
Some of Oklahoma’s teachers at the highest risk for contracting COVID-19 received vaccine doses this week. However, it’s unclear when all K-12 teachers in the state will receive vaccinations.
The Oklahoman’s Nuria Martinez-Keel reported this week that officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health said, at this point, federal vaccine allocations have only provided enough for the state’s most at-risk teachers and school employees.
Oklahoma public school enrollment drops significantly
NonDoc reported this week that total Oklahoma public school enrollment fell by about 1.5 percent for the current school year, marking the first time statewide enrollment has dropped in more than a decade.
However, a deeper look at the statistics released this afternoon by the Oklahoma State Department of Education shows that traditional public school districts saw an even bigger enrollment contraction as students flocked to virtual learning programs such as Epic Charter Schools.
The Tulsa World’s Andrea Eger reported that some of the biggest enrollment drops were seen in pre-K and kindergarten. These enrollment declines make up about three-fourths of the state’s public education student decrease.
OKCPS adjusts return to campus plan
Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel released an update on the district’s spring semester Friday afternoon, including some adjustment to the return-to-campus plan.
Students in pre-K through fourth grade will return to in-person learning with an A/B schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Since Rogers Elementary also serves fourth through sixth graders, OKCPS will bring all Rogers Elementary students back for in-person learning during on Jan. 19 as well.
Special education students who learn in a self-contained classroom setting as well as alternative education students will also be welcomed back in-person on Jan. 19.
The district will continue to consider bringing fifth through 12th grades back to in-person learning with an A/B schedule on Feb. 1.
Sen. Standridge files school choice legislation
Branded the Wellness Scholarship Program Act, SB 221 would create a voucher program to provide private school scholarships for students of parents who have health-related concerns. Similarly, Standridge’s SB 222 — termed the Hope Scholarship Program Act — would provide scholarships for students to attend a private school of choice if they have experienced bullying.
At-risk Lawton Public School employees get vaccinations
The Lawton Constitution’s Chris Wilson reported that Lawton Public Schools held a walk-in clinic this week to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to school nurses and special education teachers working with severe and profound special needs students.
Wilson spoke with a special education teacher from Lawton Public Schools about the importance of getting special education educators vaccinated, as they’re also considered health care workers.
Tulsa-area school districts return to in-person and virtual learning
Five school districts in the Tulsa area returned to learning for the spring semester this week, both in-person and virtually.
The Tulsa World’s Kelsy Schlotthauer reported that Jenks, Owasso and Union schools returned in-person and virtually on Monday. Broken Arrow returned to in-person learning Tuesday after a day of distance learning Monday.
Tulsa Public Schools is continuing distance learning until Jan. 25, when they plan to return to in-person learning.
Some Cherokee County schools reopen for spring semester
Most of the schools within Cherokee County transitioned to virtual learning shortly before the winter break, with many returning to classes in-person and virtually this week.
Sheri Gourd with the Tahlequah Daily News reported on how schools in the county are continuing to adjust to COVID-19 and beginning their spring semesters.
Oklahoma education tweets of the week
I'm eavesdropping on my son's third-grade virtual class this morning as the teacher talks through what happened in Washington yesterday. Fascinating to hear these kids ask questions but fully grasp the importance of voting and the peaceful transition of power.
— Ben Felder (@benfelder_okc) January 7, 2021
Public school enrollment in Oklahoma is down bigtime, largely because of a massive drop in pre-kindergarten enrollment. https://t.co/PUdX8irK77
— Robby Korth (@RobbyKorth) January 7, 2021
Just announced: Oklahoma K-12 education will receive $665,038,753 in funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA/CARES2). @oksde #OklaEd —> https://t.co/gCluZDeVGh
— Joy Hofmeister (@joy4ok) January 5, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccinations continue at the Great Plains Coliseum. Several of our #LawtonPS staff members volunteered Mon. & are back at it today. Thankful for the CCHD team, medical staff, & awesome volunteers! #TeamLawton #WeAreLPS #oklaed #communitycollaboration pic.twitter.com/d9WyhjFueR
— LPS (@LawtonPS) January 7, 2021