Gov. Stitt Pushes For In-Person Learning While OEA Says Learning Has Continued In 2020

Thursday, December 17th 2020, 5:31 pm

The governor is calling on schools to have an in-person learning option while also giving teachers higher priority to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I will do everything. I am up here publicly saying my goal is to get every kid in school in person in January. However we can do it," said Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The governor expresses his most serious concern regarding returning to the classroom. He said he is willing to talk to the state Board of Education and any district in the state to ensure that in-person learning is an option for students.

"If you are with me, call your local school boards. Thank them for giving you an option for what's best for your kid," Stitt said.

"This isn't an us vs. them. It's not parents vs. educators. We are all working towards the same goal," said Alicia Priest, the president of the Oklahoma Education Association.

She is pleased to see teachers will be getting the vaccine sooner, but this is not the only thing she is concerned about.

"We should be focusing on a holistic approach. A long-term plan to get schools open," said Priest.

She said teaching has gone on. While it might be a different style, there is still learning happening.

"You know the reality is opening up our schools is a mere sound bite. Our schools are open. They are just open in a different way," said Priest.

As for the vaccination, teachers were initially set to get the vaccine in the third phase with students, but now, teachers and support staff like cafeteria workers and bus drivers are moving to the second phase of vaccines.

Oklahoma interim state Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye said different groups will be prioritized and phases can run concurrently.

"We are not going to wait until every single front line healthcare worker gets the dose. If they are not willing to take it at that time, we are going to move it to the next person," Frye said.

He said his best guess to when the vaccine will start being administered to teachers is January.