Some Oklahoma students could be in the classroom on Saturdays as schools figure out how to return to classes in the fall.
A divided state school board voted 5 to 2 to allow districts to count Saturday instruction toward the required 180 school days.
“This is no one’s Plan A,” state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told the board.
She made it clear, this is not a requirement to keep schools open on Saturday, just an option for districts moving forward.
“While some districts are considering a schedule that would be Plan A, everyone goes back to school just like normal,” Hofmeister said. “Then they are building Plan B, Plan C, Plan D.”
Some on the board disagreed and asked how this would affect students after a stressful end of the 2019-2020 school year.
“Students have gone through quite a bit of stress emotionally and mentally, and for us to open up and take away that weekend time they have with their families, I feel that Saturday would not be a wise thing,” board member Estela Hernandez said.
Hofmeister said districts she’s spoken with do not want six school days per week but are instead considering things like rotating days to spread students out or offering Saturday to students who may be immunocompromised.
“All of that is locally determined,” Hofmeister said. “None of this happens unless the community want this. Our intention is to just open as many options as possible for districts to gauge what their community wants.”
The state’s largest teachers union said the move provides school districts with needed flexibility.
“With the Saturday school option, locally elected school boards now have another choice when it comes to their school calendar,” Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said in a statement. “The safety of our students, teachers and support professionals are at the forefront of these decisions.”
The state school board said the Saturday option could be pulled back from a district if the board didn’t approve of how it was being used.