Jennifer Pierce, News 9 and News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Today is a first for many reasons. It's the first day of school, first day of a brutal heat wave, and the first of what district officials say will be an improved way of learning.
The day starts early for Wilson Elementary students, they're greeted at the door, by the new principal, then breakfast, and goodbyes to parents.
This is the earliest Oklahoma City public school students have ever gone back to classes, and it is an adjustment.
Staffs at Wilson Elementary welcome the new school year with optimism.
"Our goal as a school is that 100 percent of our students will master our learning standard 100 percent of the time," says Kirk Wilson, Principal of Wilson Elementary. "We know that's a loft goal but that's what we want to strive for."
Students and teachers have a shorter summer break, but longer fall, spring and winter breaks.
Administrators say the biggest advantage to the continuous learning calendar is retention students won't forget as much over the summer months.
"A lot of research has gone into it. The kids lose a lot over summer we spend the first two weeks of the year on a traditional calendar catching up," Wilson says.
Karl Springer, Oklahoma Public School District Superintendent, believes the continuous learning calendar will be a success. And anticipates metro schools will follow suit the years to come.
Another issue with starting school this early is the extreme heat. Oklahoma City public school students start the year on one of the hottest days of the summer. They're adjusting to the continuous learning calendar, and the brutal heat.
The playground at Wilson Elementary will stay empty, outdoor recess is off limits, as long as Oklahoma is in the middle of a record breaking heat wave.
And already there are problems.
The AC in this first grade classroom at Wilson Elementary is broken. The teacher has a fan going and water coolers. She says the students will move to another room if it gets too hot.
Staff anticipated the triple digit heat, and put a plan in place.
"We're asking parents to help us please make sure the kiddos pack a bottle of water and there are water fountains in school they can refill at the end of the day," Wilson says.
That's critical for students who ride the bus. Drivers are supposed to make sure the windows are down, and have ice, water and wet towels on board for emergencies.
Typically schools turn the AC off at the end of the day, district officials say that will not happen this year, they will run the AC's as long as possible to keep classrooms cool.
08/01/2011 Related Story: Heat, School Zones Concerns As OKC Students Head Back To School.
07/31/2011 Related Story: Keeping Cool As Thousands Of OKC Kids Head Back To School.