Bill In State Legislature To Regulate Virtual Learning In Oklahoma Schools

A bill moving through the state legislature would require school districts to justify their use of virtual learning days. A Green Country school district says this could impact the way it uses online learning.

Monday, April 15th 2024, 5:36 pm

By: Cal Day


A bill moving through the state legislature would require school districts to justify their use of virtual learning days. A Green Country school district says this could impact the way it uses online learning.

Broken Arrow Public Schools incorporates several virtual learning days into its calendar for staff development. School leaders say those days could be in jeopardy if the bill passes with its current language.

“We have a lot of teachers who are just learning on the job,” said Sharon James, Broken Arrow Public Schools. “What we want to have an opportunity to do is pull a few days out through the year, provide the development they need so that the rest of the days throughout the year are quality and even better than it would be.”

Senate Bill 1768 could change this formula for the district. It would require districts to inform the State Department of Education when they use virtual days.

If the department denies them, schools would have to tack on days of classroom learning. The bill is forgiving when it comes to bad weather and staff shortages but would require teachers to log on for at least four hours of screen time on staff development days.

“We can’t provide professional development and still sustain that requirement,” said James. “We just can’t do it.”

State Senator Kristen Thompson is one of the authors. She says the bill is designed to keep districts from taking too many virtual days.

“Over 30 is now an abnormal thing for us to see,” said Thompson. “We just really thought we need to put some parameters in place.”

Thompson wants to see the bill evolve when it comes to development days, which would help districts like Broken Arrow.

“Let them go do that, let them focus on themselves, let them focus on their career,” said Thompson. “Let’s keep the instructional days on instructional days.”

Thompson says the bill is going through the process and is eligible to be heard on the House floor. It currently carries an emergency title, which means it would go into effect right away if it becomes law.

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