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Superintendent Sean McDaniel announced Tuesday that Pre-K and Kindergarten students will be returning to campus October 19 and 1st through 12 grades will return November 9.

It is an adjustment to the original plan which was to have all grades involved in virtual education through the first nine weeks and make a decision about the next nine weeks half-way through.

The blended learning plan for students’ return is an A/B model of attendance so that buildings will have only half of their assigned students on campus at any given time. (See more details about the plan below.)

The October start is a modification of McDaniel’s original plan which was to start back next week.

Urgency

At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, both McDaniel and Dr. Jamie Polk, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools expressed deep concern and a strong sense of urgency about the youngest students in the district.

Both had been hearing from parents, guardians, teachers and principals about how the very youngest students who have not had an opportunity to learn school process and habits yet were struggling.

“When we are already starting on first base, many our neighbors are on third base,” said Polk, comparing progress of the district’s youngest children to neighboring school districts.

“We can’t stay home much longer,” said Polk. “We just can’t.”

Both were so concerned that they wanted Pre-K and Kindergarten students to transition from all-virtual to blended learning as soon as September 21st or 28th.

The rush to return was out of character for McDaniel and Polk, both normally careful and deliberative. It was a sign that what they had been hearing about the district’s youngest students was causing deep concern.

Timing questions

The urgency to get the youngest students back into school caused some board members concern.

Board Member Gloria Torres, who taught for years and was a building principal in OKCPS before becoming a board member, asked the most questions about the timing of starting back in September.

“You indicated that schools are just now being notified today that they are going to start pre K and K in a week. When is it planned for the teachers to have time to plan for the classrooms?”

She raised the most questions about expecting teachers to adjust their entire teaching model and prepare their classrooms in the course of a week while still teaching online during that prep week.

Torres asked, “If we are looking at rolling this out next week have we had enough time for success, … for teachers to be prepared to experience success in this blended model?

Other board members also raised concerns that the shift was too sudden to give teachers and parents enough time to make preparations for the new model in only a week.

McDaniel agreed to revisit the timing of the return to school buildings which he did the next day.

The result was a new plan that gives everyone involved time to plan for the new A/B schedule.

Addressing parents in a video produced late Tuesday, McDaniel said, “We are going to flood you with information,” about the A/B plan and all of the particulars of making the change.

McDaniel’s entire video is embedded at the end of this report.

The plan

Pre-K and Kindergarten students are already divided into two groups. If your student is in the virtual morning group, they will be in Group A when they return. If they receive virtual instruction in the afternoon, they are in Group B.

The following specific information is copied verbatim from an OKCPS press release Tuesday:

It is our intention to not have more than 15 students in a classroom at a time during this phase of our Return to Campus plan.

So, what does this mean for Pre-K and Kindergarten families on October 19?

  • Pre-K and Kindergarten students will attend school in-person two full days a week starting October 19, 2020. Students will be provided with learning activities to complete on their own at home during the other 3 days of the week, similar to what they currently do on Wednesdays.
  • Students should bring their iPad to school with them on the days they have in-person learning.
  • Transportation will be provided to kindergarten students who live further than 1.5 miles from their assigned school. Bus route information is available from your student’s school.
  • Historically, OKCPS hasn’t provided transportation for our Pre-K students. Families will be responsible for dropping off and picking up their Pre-K students.
  • Meals will be provided to students who are attending school in-person. Students will either eat in the cafeteria while social distancing or in their classrooms. Drive thru meal services are still available from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm at every school for students on the days they do remote learning.
  • Although families are encouraged to follow the uniform guidelines if at all possible, students will be allowed to wear any solid colored polo shirt, along with khaki, black or navy pants.

Safety Protocols for students include:

  • Students should wear a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth (OKCPS can provide one if needed).
  • Students’ temperatures will be taken upon arrival to school. If a student has a temperature of over 100.4 or more, they will be asked to return home.
  • Students will be asked to wash their hands several times a day and/or use hand sanitizer when necessary.
  • Students will also practice social distancing when applicable.
  • Teachers will wear PPE and wipe down surfaces that are touched frequently.

Any Pre-K or Kindergarten family who does not wish to return to in-person learning on October 19 may opt into our e3 Online Learning program. To do so, please contact your school directly to make that change no later than Wednesday, September 30.

From OKCPS Tuesday, September 15, 2020.

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