Parents asked to move distance-learning students to EDGE Virtual Academy, send in-person students back to school
By Ryan Horton
A special school board meeting today has set the district up to resume in-person learning next week.
The Choctaw-Nicoma Park School Board has authorized Superintendent David Reid the authority to determine whether district schools operate in-person, hybrid or in virtual learning.
Reid will also set the required mitigating procedures for CNP staff, students and patrons.
“This means that in-person learning will return five days a week beginning Monday, Dec. 7,” announced Reid Dec. 2.
Reid says the action allows for:
Eliminating the need for continual changes to the return plan.
Examining sites individually with the ability to shut down on a smaller scale as needed – a class, a grade level, a team, or even a specific site. Consideration made for temporary distance learning for a particular site if the school population (students and staff) is above 5 percent positive rate for COVID-19.
Using data from the OSSBA and OSDH maps but not being tied to a specific number
Monitoring site instructional staff availability (Including availability of substitutes), transportation staff availability and child nutrition staff availability.
Parents are asked to decide this week if their students will attend in-person or virtual school for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
“In-person learning is the best platform for the majority of our students,” said Reid. “We are allowing parents to choose distance learning vs. in-person learning for the final two weeks of the year. This allows all parents to choose the appropriate educational platform based on their family’s specific needs. Parents have until this Friday (Dec. 4) to make their selection for in-person or virtual (EDGE) learning for the second semester. Parents will have to choose one of those two options for the second semester as intermittent distance learning will not be an option except for extreme circumstances approved by site administrations. We are asking parents to let their child’s teachers know if they are committing to distance learning for the rest of the semester by end of the day Friday, Dec. 4.”
Reid gave detailed reasoning for his decision to provide in-person learning opportunities in addition to virtual learning during this pandemic as each family situation continues to be unique.
“Committing to in-person learning will provide consistency that families need. A majority of our students are falling behind academically while on distance learning. Student failure rates are higher than ever. The number of meals we serve our students while on distance learning is down dramatically which likely means many of our students are not getting meals each day. We have mitigating procedures in place (mask mandates, social distancing where possible, daily temperature checks, frequent washing of hands, cleansing of areas, etc.). When students aren’t in school – a great majority of them are not quarantining in their house or following any of the safety mitigation procedures. There is much greater exposure outside of school. Coming back in session on the week of December 7th allows two full weeks for students to get in-person assistance for completing their assignments and preparing for any semester ending activities such as semester tests, projects, etc. This also allows elementary students the opportunity to create the memories made during end of the semester activities,” explained Reid.
“CDC Guidance/OSSBA Guidance/OSDH Guidance changes as we move through the pandemic. This is normal as more is learned about the virus, its spread, and the effectiveness of mitigating procedures in schools. Not being tied to a specific measurement allows the flexibility for the district to adapt as needed. As of today, the CDC has reduced mandated quarantine times as well: Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day seven. We need to look at the overall wellbeing of each child – academically, socially, emotionally, health, etc. and make the best solution possible – knowing in advance that there may not be any perfect solutions. Ultimately, we care about our students and the overall wellness of our community. Most school districts in the state are having success conducting in-person learning. These include districts of similar size as well as those in proximity to our region. Teachers can make efforts to social distance themselves as needed. Emerging research is leaning towards transmission in schools is not happening as it was initially thought it would.”
The decision came less than 24 hours after the City of Choctaw took steps to further enforce a mask mandate throughout the city limits. The city added fines for violating the mask mandate and also authorized police to enforce governor-issued mandates as law within the city.
The school district and city government are separate entities, and officials say education decisions are being made with the best interest of students in mind.