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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — In spite of both districts even sending office and administrative staff into classrooms to cover, COVID has broken down staffing numbers so badly in Oklahoma City Public Schools and Putnam City Public Schools that both districts have suspended all in-person learning for the remainder of the week.

As late as the OKCPS Board of Education meeting Monday night, Superintendent Sean McDaniel said, “Right now, we are not in serious discussions about shutting the district down.”

But, with each new day’s news of it being harder to find anyone safe and qualified to tend to an in-person classroom because of COVID infections, today’s decision is no surprise to those who have been monitoring circumstances.

Putnam City Schools have virtual augmentations of in-person learning, and some students were able to opt in for all-virtual learning at the beginning of the school year.

Oklahoma City Public Schools has had detailed virtual learning options for students in just this kind of event since the pandemic in 2020.

“Out of options”

“Even after working to reassign staff at all levels across the district, we have determined that we can no longer adequately sustain a safe and meaningful learning environment for our students. This is a manpower issue, and we are simply out of options,” McDaniel wrote in a direct email to parents Wednesday at 1:41 p.m.

McDaniel expressed growing concern during the 2020 lockdown at what he was hearing about the home situation of a growing number of students in the district. From that, he has seemed determined to provide in-person learning, which is an island of stability for many students whose caregivers work two and three jobs each.

The superintendent said in Wednesday’s email, “…we continue to believe that being in the schoolhouse is the best place for kids.”

OKCPS now moves as a whole district to virtual, asynchronous learning for the rest of the week. The communication to OKCPS parents that they “plan to bring our students back to campus for in-person learning on Tuesday, January 18th,” which would be after the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday when there is no school in honor of the holiday.

Instructions for OKCPS students and staff

The following is what we have copied directly from the instructions for parents and students sent Wednesday from OKCPS to avoid any errors in our reporting so many details. UPDATE: This is the updated version from later in the day after our first publication with changes the district made to their own information.


OKCPS FAMILIES:

ELEMENTARY:  

Elementary families are encouraged to log-in for a short meeting with your child’s teacher each day sometime between 8:20 – 9:00am to discuss the day’s expectations and so the teacher can answer any questions you may have.

MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL: 

There will be opportunities for middle and high school families to work directly with your child’s teachers. All assignments will be uploaded to your class Canvas page but there are 2 different ways your teacher can help you:

Office HoursTargeted Support
Time to meet with your teachers by content area to ask questions or get one-on-one help. This is done by logging into your teacher’s Office Hours Google Meet.Time for teachers to work with small groups or individual students who may need more targeted instruction. Teachers will assign you targeted groups to help you with skills or content.

Office Hours and Targeted Supports for our middle and high school students will be held at specific times during the day.  See the chart below for when your teacher is available. Of course, you can always email your teacher as well.

MIDDLE SCHOOL 

1st Hour 9:00-9:55 amPlan Time for Teachers
2nd Hour 9:55-10:40 amOffice Hours – Math Targeted Support – English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Electives
3rd Hour 10:40-11:25 amOffice Hours – Social Studies Targeted Support – English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Electives
4th Hour 11:25-12:40 pmLunch
5th Hour 12:40-1:25 pmOffice Hours – English Language Arts (ELA) Targeted Support – Math, Science, and Social StudiesElective PLC (teachers)
6th Hour 1:25-2:20 pmOffice Hours – Science Targeted Support – English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Social Studies, and Electives
7th Hour 2:20-3:05 pmOffice Hours – ElectivesPLC and Content or Team Meeting Rotation (teachers)
8th Hour 3:05-4:00 pmPlan Time for Teachers

HIGH SCHOOL

1st Hour 7:10-8:10 amPlan Time for Teachers
2nd Hour 8:10-9:10 amOffice Hours – Math 
3rd Hour 9:10-10:10 amOffice Hours – Social StudiesTargeted Support – Math
4th Hour 10:10-11:10 amOffice Hours – English Language Arts (ELA) Targeted Support – Social Studies & Science 
11:10-11:40 amLunch
5th Hour 11:40-12:40 pmOffice Hours – Science Targeted Support – English Language Arts (ELA)
6th Hour 12:40-1:40 pmOffice Hours – Electives PLC or Grade Level Meetings (teachers)
7th Hour 1:40-2:40 pmPlan Time for Teachers

ALL FAMILIES: 

  • Attendance is important. All students must login and complete your assignments each day in order to be counted present. 
  • If your student is having device or connectivity issues, please call the OKCPS Help Desk at 405-587-HELP (4357) Monday through Friday from 7:30am – 4:30pm to receive assistance. 
  • Curbside meal service, including a breakfast and a lunch, will be available at no cost to students at all OKCPS school sites from 10:30am -12:30pm each day.
  • Activities and athletics will continue for OKCPS students during asynchronous learning, while following existing COVID protocols. Please watch for additional information from your coach/sponsor.
  • Families also should watch closely for any additional information that may come from your child’s teacher or your school’s principal.  

OKCPS STAFF

  • Starting tomorrow (Thursday), any/all district site staff not in quarantine or off work will report to the campus each day during regular school hours. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine as a close contact but are asymptomatic and can perform your job duties, you will be able to work remotely from home during your isolation or quarantine period.  If you are at home due to illness or have other obligations that prevent you from working, please take the appropriate leave and work with your colleagues to ensure that your students are taken care of.
  • The schedules shown above will allow for a substantial amount of planning time, PLC time, and office hours in order to continue providing instructional support for our students during asynchronous learning.  
  • Teachers should ensure all Google Meet links are posted and easily accessible for students.  You can find more information on Canvas expectations here: www.okcps.org/Page/7096
  • During work hours, teachers should be actively engaged and available in case students log on or reach out to you needing additional support.  
  • Staff should encourage all students to take their devices and any other materials home with them today so they are ready for asynchronous learning. 
  • Staff members may bring their own children to work with them, as long as they are OKCPS students and not out of school due to illness or quarantine. These students are encouraged to eat breakfast and lunch at school, as well. 
  • Until further notice, all meetings should be conducted virtually when possible, and staff are encouraged to closely follow social distancing protocols. 

COVID-19 TESTING & SAFETY

It is very important for families and staff to continue reporting positive cases and exposures to their school or supervisor — even while students are home for virtual learning. This data is critical for district leaders as they make decisions and assess our ability to safely conduct school.

During asynchronous learning, OKCPS will continue to make COVID-19 testing available to students and staff at Taft Stadium, 2501 N May Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73107. This will be by appointment only. To make an appointment, please visit: www.okcps.org/TaftTesting.  OKCPS staff may also be tested at their school site if available, as well as at district sites which are located at the Student Support Services Center at Westwood or at the Operations Center. 

In the meantime, OKCPS will continue to add layers of safety by applying  yet another round of the 90 day Electrostatic disinfectant mist in all schools in the evening on January 13th and 14th which will sanitize surfaces and create a protective barrier for up to 90 days. Every school’s bipolar needlepoint ionization system will also continue to purify the air through our ventilation systems and is in operation 24/7.

Again, we currently plan to bring our students back to campus for in-person learning on Tuesday, January 18th. However, it is important to note that our public health partners tell us they anticipate a continued increase in COVID-19 cases over the upcoming long weekend which may impact our ability to safely return to school. For this reason, all OKCPS staff and families are encouraged to go ahead and make contingency plans for asynchronous learning to continue into next week. The district will notify you no later than Monday evening (January 17th) if we are forced to extend our virtual learning environment.  As a reminder, OKCPS schools and offices will be closed on Monday, January 17th to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Putnam Cityslim communications

Looking for a news release on Putnam City’s decision to close in-person learning and go virtual, Free Press only found this pop-up on several pages of the district’s website by publication of this report:

Screen shot of pop-up on Putnam City Schools’ website Wednesday afternoon.

When we contacted some parents of Putnam City students they said that the district had only sent out a text message and pushed out a phone call:

Screenshot of a text message from Putnam City Public Schools to parents Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2021.

Earlier in the week on January 3 and then, then January 7, PCS did send out instructions for students who were infected. The district has had a virtual option that parents were given a window to opt into this summer. Parents tell us that there are virtual components to the in-person classrooms that students can access in case of illness.

Putnam City Public Schools
Putnam City High School, March 2020. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Instructions for PCS parents

A parent – not the school district – has shared this email that went out to them today. This is the entire email we have copied and pasted into this report:


Dear Families,

Putnam City Schools is transitioning to distance learning for all schools (elementary, middle and high schools) for Thursday, January 13, 2022 and Friday, January 14, 2022.

As communicated yesterday, because of the continuing spike in COVID cases, we currently have a significant number of staff who are sick, quarantining or in isolation for the remainder of the week. This coupled with the shortage of substitute teachers has stretched our ability to provide adequate and safe coverage for all schools in our District. This is unfortunately causing us to expand distance learning to all Putnam City Schools for the remainder of this week.  

Monday, January 17, 2022, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and there is already no school. We are planning on returning all our buildings to in-person school Tuesday, January 18, 2022.

The school plans to proceed with school activities to the extent they can safely be staffed.

It is important that our students understand that school is still in session. Please make sure your students log in to Seesaw, Google Classroom or complete their assigned activities each day. Completing this work will determine attendance for each day. Teachers are adjusting for distance learning and will be pushing out lessons.

We will continue to provide meals free of charge to all students. Grab and go meal services will be available from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the school. 

We appreciate your cooperation and will send further updates if anything changes. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Putnam City Schools Administration


Last Updated January 12, 2022, 9:14 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor