All 15 County Schools Closed until at least April 6
County Superintendents Give Updates
March 19, 2020
With concern over the COVID-19 outbreak growing, the Oklahoma State Department of Education approved a mandatory cessation of all public schools within Oklahoma on Monday, March 16 to last until at least April 6.
This move to close schools affects all 14 county public schools: Asher, Bethel, Dale, Earlsboro, Grove, Macomb, Maud, McLoud, North Rock Creek, Pleasant Grove, Shawnee, South Rock Creek, Tecumseh and Wanette Public Schools.
Liberty Academy, Pottawatomie County’s only private school, announced on Facebook they will comply with state officials and close as well.
“It will be challenging to many families,” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in an emergency meeting Monday. “Nothing takes precedence over the health and wellbeing of our people. Nothing.”
The cessation of schools includes all instructional activities, grading, extracurricular activities, staff development, training and conferences, Hofmeister said.
Clerical and administrative activities, business management, nutritional services and maintenance may continue, she said.
Hofmeister said the State Board of Education is going through the steps needed “so that schools can remain closed for as long as needed to protect the health of our children, our students, our teachers who serve them, all sorts of staff who serve in our communities, their families and the broader communities across the state.”
As of now, it looks like the schools won’t have to make up the two weeks they will miss, but a definite plan for all schools has not been set up.
“We have been informed that we will not have to make up these days,” South Rock Creek Superintendent Mike Crawford said.
Bethel Public Schools Superintendent Tod Harrison said of his district, “No determination will be made concerning the makeup of these missed days until further clarification is received from the State Board of Education.”
Events such as graduations, proms and senior and class trips are still up in the air for county schools.
“No immediate decisions regarding school events will be made given the fluidity of this situation,” Harrison said. “We will continue to make the best decisions possible for our students, staff and community by utilizing the guidance of the State Department of Education and the Center for Disease Control.”
Wanette Public Schools Superintendent Silvia McNeely said she was advised to make plans for possible extension of the school year, but “details are not yet available.”
She said Hofmeister was leading a webinar which would provide more information.
“Wanette’s leadership team will be coming together after spring break for a planning session,” McNeely said.
North Rock Creek Superintendent Blake Moody said their district’s leadership would meet during the week to determine an action plan.
Tom Wilsie, superintendent of Tecumseh Public Schools, said, “It is too early for us to make any decisions on the many events that normally take place in the spring and at the end of a school year.”
He said TPS will have to wait until they get closer to these scheduled dates before they know what guidelines and directives they’ll will be dealing with that would affect participation in these events.
Macomb Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Riggs said they’ll address any activities or events when they return to normal operations.
Liberty Academy said, “we will exercise caution and will comply with the directions that are given by our state officials,” on their Facebook page Monday.
“Our teachers have been working on plans for distance education since last week. We take very seriously the privilege and responsibility of assisting you in the training of your children and are thankful to be able to work with you,” they said.
Their Facebook page said since their teachers are on Spring Break, a plan will not come together until next week.
“Thank you for your flexibility and allowing us time so that we can provide for our teachers some training on distance learning,” the post said.
In the State Board of Education’s emergency meeting Monday, Hofmeister said end-of-the-year standardized testing windows are still in place, but they have flexibility within their testing vendor contracts to change that if needed.
“We’re not going to ask children to come and be assessed under circumstances that would not be the right thing, and we will not hesitate in making that call,” she said.
She said for now, however, they are just looking at the period of time between now and April 6, but she is not afraid to make a decision on standardized testing later.