School buildings will not reopen for the rest of the school year due to spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the state superintendent proposed Monday.

Rather than returning to class, Oklahoma students are expected to continue distance learning until the end of the school year in May. 

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she will propose a continuous learning plan to the State Board of Education on Wednesday.

Beginning April 6, districts will be expected to provide distance learning for the remainder of the school year. 

Hofmeister said the Oklahoma State Department of Education will offer resources and guidance for districts to pursue distance learning. In addition, the agency is exploring how federal assistance could bolster digital connectivity for some districts.

OETA, Oklahoma’s educational public TV network, will also provide help. In partnership with education department, OETA will broadcast instructional daytime programming for the state’s PreK-12 students.

“I have faith in the commitment, innovation and creativity of Oklahoma educators and administrators,” Hofmeister said in a news release. “Many districts across our state have utilized online instruction already and likely will be able to hit the ground running. Other districts have significant technology limitations, while some might opt for instructional materials delivered to students. There will be a wide range of approaches and it will be far from ideal, but necessary as we embrace these changes and even sacrifice to protect the public health of our communities.”

The top priority for districts will be to ensure high school seniors who are on track to graduate this school year receive the help they need, Hofmeister said. The state board is expected to ensure districts fulfill graduation requirements but in such a way that students are not negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Standardized testing and the Oklahoma School Report Cards for the 2019-2020 school year have been suspended thanks to a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education.