In a statement to answer common questions, Ardmore City Schools announced a system for parents to email questions about the remaining school year. The statement released by the district on Thursday described the statewide school closure amid the global COVID-19 pandemic as a “fluid situation.”
As part of the statement’s release on the district’s Facebook page, officials also said information to sign up students for free meals will be available sometime today.
The statement mirrored a release from the Oklahoma State School Board Association and attempted to answer three main questions asked about the decision by state education officials to shutter classrooms statewide. It also said district offices and schools will operate with essential personnel beginning next week to help answer questions and maintain administrative activities.
To answer the common question about when schools will reopen, the statement said state education officials are expected to reassess the situation before April 6. When the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced the closure on Monday, Superintendent Joy Hofmiester indicated that schools could possibly be closed even longer.
Another common question the ACS statement tried to answer was whether days missed because of the closure will have to be made up. State regulations require students to receive a minimum number of days or instruction hours in order to complete a school year, but efforts are underway to waive those requirements. The OSSBA anticipates the Oklahoma State Board of Education will vote to waive requirements for days missed during the mandatory shutdown.
A separate statement from Hofmeister on Thursday said state education officials will also seek a federal waiver for mandated student assessments. The U.S. Department of Education has reportedly indicated to state education officials that they would consider waiving the required academic assessments that are given to third through eighth grades and again in high school.
“Our educators and district leaders need to shift their focus from assessments to essential services, including child nutrition and planning to continue student learning through alternative delivery methods,” Hofmeister said.
The order by state education officials to close schools for two weeks after spring break also affected extracurricular activities, including sports and fine arts. “[E]ssential clerical and administrative activities such as business management, nutrition services, maintenance may continue,” the ACS statement read.
Staff will only be on site Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., according to the statement.
OSDE spokesperson Carrie Burkhart on Monday said that state education offices would also be staffed with a “skeleton crew” of about 30 employees for the foreseeable future to ensure services like funding continue for Oklahoma schools.
For parents who cannot find answers to their questions about how schools are being impacted by the pandemic, ACS school officials will monitor two email addresses once per day. Questions can be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and answers will be provided on their website.