Oklahoma Ed. Dept. Updates Guidelines For Reopening Schools

Tuesday, September 22nd 2020, 10:33 pm
By: Barry Mangold

The Oklahoma State Department of Education updated its recommendations to school districts handling COVID-19 pandemic.  

The updated guidelines, which were approved on Friday, provide suggestions to district administrators on what actions to take relative to the local infection rate. Depending on the level of infection, counties are categorized as green, yellow, orange level one, orange level two, or red. 

Click here to view OSDE’s current COVID-19 map, which was updated on Friday.  

In the original guidelines, the state recommended split schedules, remote learning, and closing buildings for the three most severe levels, respectively.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the update puts “a heavy emphasis on the need for our districts to talk with public health officials, to not lean on their own assessment of things.” 

Outbreaks inside prisons and on college campuses have inflated some county’s infection rates.

Hofmeister and Shawn Hime, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association said local health workers can help contextualize any rise in cases. 

“(School districts) need to be working with public health officials as they interpret, not just what’s happening in their whole building, but what’s happening in the entire county,” she said. 

Hime said the COVID-19 map is a single data point for districts and not the deciding factor when constructing a learning plan. 

“If you go to that hardcore, ‘we’re going to follow this map regardless,’ you could miss out on the opportunity to educate your children,” Hime said. 

Although school districts look to the recommendations for guidance, the measures are not required by the state.