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Choctaw to return to five-day learning

CNP School Board votes to begin transitioning back to full week for in-person students


By Ryan Horton
Managing Editor

At the most recent regular Choctaw-Nicoma Park School Board meeting, officials unanimously approved Superintendent David Reid’s recommendation to begin transitioning back toward a five-day in-person school week.

The board voted to begin changing back to a full in-person week for those district students that have been on a two-day in-person schedule so far this year.

No changes will affect the EDGE Virtual Academy.

Four day a week instruction started on Oct. 20 with Wednesdays remaining reserved for distance learning and deep cleaning of facilities.

Five day a week instruction will begin on Nov. 30.

The Oct. 12 vote coincided with the first day of the eighth week of the 2020-21 school year, meaning at that time most Choctaw-Nicoma Park students had only stepped foot inside their in-person school site 15 times.

Superintendent David Reid makes his recommendation to the CNP School Board. This week the district started transitioning back toward a five-day school week.

Many families say they’re experiencing detrimental consequences on learning and social development, especially with young students.

“Our goal was always to transition to five-day a week learning when we thought that it was safe and responsible to do so,” said Superintendent David Reid, regarding his recommendation to the board.

“Our students are falling behind academically. I know there’s a certain percentage that are doing fairly well, but the greater majority of our students are definitely falling behind and we have to do what we can to make sure we’re educating to the best of our ability all of the students in our district.”

Reid referenced districts of all sizes throughout the state that have been doing fulltime learning and having success, while many CNP students have been falling behind.

“This is not a political issue. There are no winners or losers,” said Reid.

“We all have the same goal in mind, to do what’s best for the students and staff of Choctaw-Nicoma Park.”
The district has reported much success with quarantining procedures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after positive tests were reported.
Reid insists mask wearing, social distancing and disinfecting efforts will continue as safety of students remains a top priority.

“When these kids aren’t in school, three days a week, they’re living in the community. They’re being exposed to more people with less mitigating outside of school so it’s actually safer for students to be in school with our mitigating procedures,” said Reid. “We have found the community spread is much greater than the spread within our schools. It is apparent that the activities taking place outside the school walls are much more dangerous than those taking place inside the school walls with our mitigating procedures in place. We ask families to be diligent in making sure all students attending school do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and that families take additional precautions while in the community.”

Several students, parents and educators were in attendance to voice their support or concern with the action taken by the board.

Speakers proved there’s no shortage of differing opinions regarding education during the pandemic.

Officials say flexibility remains crucial during the district’s planning, and the board can always call a special meeting to amend scheduling if circumstances change as the pandemic continues.

Reid says the district will continue to monitor the color-coded map and follow recommendations by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the State Department of Education.

Enrollment changes to or from in-person or virtual learning with the CNP EDGE Academy will reopen in December.


Harrah schools adjust pandemic plan


By John Martin
Staff Writer

With the increasing number of positive COVID cases increasing in the Harrah community, discussion and potential action is being sought for the daily/weekly offerings of brick-n-mortar instruction vs virtual instruction and protocols for all extra-curricular activities in the Harrah School System.

The Harrah Board of Education considered three options for moving forward at the monthly meeting Monday night.

Option 1: Follow the Oklahoma State Department of Education “color-coded” suggested guidelines for determining weekly decisions on instructional offerings throughout the district according to the active number of positive COVID cases in the Harrah community and surrounding communities.

Option 2: Follow Oklahoma State Health Department guidelines for active COVID cases for each site. If the number of active COVID cases for students and staff reaches 5% of the total population of the site, all classes will become virtual for two weeks and a decision will be made for the following week.
(Example: Virginia Smith has 350 students and staff members and would meet criteria if 17 active COVID cases were determined within the entire site).

Option 3: All brick-n-mortar classes continue, while following safety guidelines until the building principal and/or superintendent determine that suitable staffing cannot occur due to COVID related issues. This will be determined week by week during the COVID epidemic.    After considering the options, a motion was made to approve COVID protocols that include following the health department guidelines and building principal recommendations for school closures due to COVID and adding restrictions to all indoor extracurricular activities that will require masks being worn by all spectators and students, limiting the number of spectators for events, and social distancing for all students and patrons while in attendance.

All extracurricular winter sports (boys and girls basketball, swimming, wrestling) determined protocols to follow for their specific activities to continue in the case of potential school shutdown.
ENROLLMENT The COVID epidemic continues to disrupt enrollment in Harrah Schools as there are 34 fewer students enrolled in combined brick-n-mortar and virtual classes. There were 1,985 students on the September report and 1,951 students were reported to October’s board meeting.

That compared to 2,259 which was the enrollment for the same period in 2019, a decrease of 302 students since the COVID forced the closing of school following Spring Break.

The number of virtual students remained fairly constant with the current total of 302 compared to 308 last month.

The only class in the district to show an increase was the Pre-K which added two students for a total of 72. Virginia Smith showed the slightest decrease of the district’s five schools with kindergarten losing just two students and first grade only one to go with the two-student increase in Pre-K.

Clara Reynolds showed a decrease in second grade from 168 to 163 and third grade had six fewer, from 142 to 136.

Russell Babb had three fewer students in each of the fourth and fifth grade classes to end the month with 298, 151 in fourth ad 147 in sixth.

The seventh grade class remains the largest in the district with 171 students, a decrease of five from last reporting period. The Middle School also has 150 sixth graders (one less) and 144 in the 8th grade, a decrease of 6.

Harrah High School remained most constant with 9th grade dropping four (151), the 10th grade down 2 to 126, the junior class lost only one to 126 and the seniors also number 126, also a decrease of just one. Alternative education enrollment showed an increase from 10 to 11 students.

Peak enrollment of virtual students is at Russell Babb where there are 30 fourth graders and 29 fifth graders enrolled in distance learning virtual class work.

DROPOUT and remediation reports reveal the following: Dropouts: 9th grade 1; 10th grade 4; 11th grade 4; 12th grade 7 (four currently enrolled in HALTS). Middle school- none.

The remediation report shows 17 developmental students, 15 in math, 5 in English, 1 in reading and none in science.

The Board also voted to approve:

•    The 2020-21 Residency Teacher Report for Harrah Public Schools
•    Out-of-state travel for Ag Teacher Brad Carey to purchase swine for students
•    The 2020-2021 annual School Election Resolution
•    The 2021 Summer Food Program
•    Applications for substitute teaching for Nancy Green, Kelvin McWater, Marina Sparks, Pamela Smith (bus driver), Bridger Smith, Madison Sturgill.
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