Friday, October 9th 2020, 9:44 pm
By: Barry Mangold
OKLAHOMA CITY –
After two weeks of a declining infection rate in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma City Public Schools will allow certain students to return to classrooms, among other changes.
On Oct. 19, prekindergarten and kindergarten classes will begin split schedules with two days of in-person class each week. High School sports and activities will resume, special education students will return to classrooms, and more.
Click here to reach the full announcement from OKCPS.
“We believe that our approach is our best, safest most responsible approach for our kids and families and employees,” said OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel.
The changes were inspired by a recent decrease in the county’s COVID-19 infection rate. Since Sept. 24, Oklahoma County’s rate has dropped from 26.2 to 20.7 cases per 100,000 people, which puts it in the state’s Orange Level 1 category.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education created guidelines for each color, which are based on a county’s infection rate. To read the guidelines and boundaries for each color, click here. To read the state map with each county’s infection rate, click here.
The county’s infection rate will be updated on Oct. 16. McDaniel said if the county jumps to the Red category, which requires an infection rate of 50 or higher, then the changes would be paused.
“Red is the deal-breaker. Orange Level 2 is not, necessarily,” McDaniel said.
Since the start of school, OKCPS classes have been completely virtual with few exceptions as the county’s infection rate bounced between the Yellow, Orange Level 1, and Orange Level 2 categories.
McDaniel said the district is reconsidering how it operates in each color.
“Whether or not Orange Level 2 becomes that marker to say, ‘we’re back to five days a week, everyone’s coming back at the same time– we’re having those conversations now,” McDaniel said.
Assuming the changes go into effect Oct. 19, there will be cleaning crews working inside district buildings during and after each school day.
“They’re disinfecting high-touch point areas. Everything from handles to light switches to doors, tops and bottoms of desks and furniture, you name it,” McDaniel said.
As the district continues to weigh decisions on reopening, all while implementing its all-virtual classes for the first time in its history, McDaniel said there’s pressure on everyone.
“It is high anxiety right now,” he said. “Our teachers are stressed, our principals are stressed, our families are stressed and anxious, and rightly so.”