OKCPS Moves 9 Schools Virtual, Anticipates More Will Join As COVID Cases Rise

Monday, January 10th 2022, 10:24 pm


Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Monday it is transitioning five schools to virtual classes for the remainder of the week, bringing the total number of temporarily closed school buildings to nine. 

Capitol Hill High School, Webster Middle School, Taft Middle School, FD Moon Middle School, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Van Buren Elementary School, Fillmore Elementary School, and Putnam Heights Academy will hold virtual asynchronous classes until further notice. 

The schools could return to in-person instruction on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at the earliest. 

Superintendent Sean McDaniel said in a virtual news conference the decision is based on an increasing number of students and staff testing positive for the virus.  

The district’s supply of substitute teachers has not been able to keep up. McDaniel said the decision to move to virtual classes is “a matter of safety and welfare.” 

Some schools have emerged as hotspots for infection, McDaniel said. Capitol Hill HS, on Monday, had 23 teachers call-in sick due to the COVID-19 and the school only had one substitute to fill the absences.  

“It’s causing exhaustion” among staff members, McDaniel said. “It’s causing some questions about supervision” 

“As things develop, we’ve got to make some tough decisions,” he said. 

McDaniel added that the district may loosen its quarantine policy to help with staffing.  

The current policy requires any student, faculty, or staff member to isolate at home if they are considered to have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. McDaniel said he is willing to waive that requirement and only recommend isolation, which several other public-school districts have done already. 

“We are willing to deviate if we believe that’s our best answer. We are willing to deviate from CDC guidelines,” McDaniel said. “At the root of all of this is: What gives our kids and our faculty and our staff the best pathway to be safe?”