A group of parents met behind closed doors with the superintendent of Deer Creek Schools and other administrators on Thursday to discuss the district’s reopening plan.
“Overall, we're just trying to have more of a say in how our kids are educated,” said Jennifer James, a mother of two and one of three parents who attended the meeting.
Last month, parents protested outside and during the Deer Creek Board of Education meeting in support of switching to traditional classes. At the meeting, the board approved the district’s Return to Learn plan.
The plan outlines which model of schooling the district will use based on Oklahoma County’s COVID-19 infection rate, which the Oklahoma State Department of Health updates every Friday.
The current rate, 22.6 infections per 100,000 people, leads the district to a split schedule where students attend in-person class two days each week. If the rate drops below 14.29, the district may transition to four days of in-person classes. If it rises above 25, students could shift to a fully remote schedule.
Even though the district’s plan meets state health guidelines, James said the current split schedule is not sustainable or healthy.
“All factors considered, mental health, emotional health and their physical well-being, we think our students and our teachers are safer in the classroom,” James said.
Charles Long, also a district parent and attendee of Thursday’s closed meeting said he is optimistic to have an open dialogue with administrators.
“The fact that they’re willing to meet with us shows that they are willing to take our advice or at least take our suggestions on some things,” Long said.
The group asked for a discussion on the district’s reopening to be added to the agenda of Monday’s board of education meeting. Although that’s not guaranteed, James said they had a thoughtful discussion with two board members and Superintendent Ranet Tippins.
“We asked the hard questions, and they gave us the hard answers,” James said. “It was just a good exchange of understanding, empathizing where we’re all coming from. But also, just committing to still having that conversation and working on getting our kids back in school.”
Assistant Superintendent Lenis DeRieux told News 9 that there was a meeting Thursday, and they do not disclose information on closed meetings with parents.
“We have great leadership at Deer Creek, and we think they can move us safely back into school,” James said.