The Oklahoma State School Board voted Wednesday to close schools until the end of the year. Beginning April 6, districts across the state will be required to switch to distance learning. 

The State Department of Education is currently surveying districts across Oklahoma to see what their distance learning capabilities are. They said they will post new guidance and resources this week to help schools adjust. 

Oklahoma classrooms have sat empty since Spring Break began and the vote by the Oklahoma Board of Education means they will likely remain that way for the rest of the year.

“It was necessary to take steps right now to ensure that our families are safe that our children are safe,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister following the meeting. 

Board members met virtually for more than two hours discussing options and waiving regulations for everything from school day length to physical education to state testing. 

“This is far from ideal but this an extraordinary situation from us that we have never experienced before,” said Hofmeister. 

While some districts may be able to conduct online learning, Hofmeister also mentioned the use of OETA, the state’s public television station, to reach others.

“Right now we cannot wait for everyone to have a uniform offering,” said Hofmeister. 

The board said districts must continue distance learning until May 8 through the 15th at least.  But they can adjust their order according to CDC recommendations.

“We would love to see a miracle, yet we believe the steps we have taken today are going to benefit Oklahoma and in the spread of the coronavirus so it does not peak to quickly in Oklahoma,” said Hofmeister. 

The board also addressed graduation and the superintendent urged individual districts to come up with innovative ways to honor graduates that comply with CDC recommendations.