Oklahoma City Public Schools to delay start of school year
July 22, 2020
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's largest public school district delayed the start of its school year by three weeks and will have online learning only until at least November in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Board of Education for Oklahoma City Public Schools voted late Tuesday to delay the start of the school year from Aug. 10 to Aug. 31. The board also decided to have virtual instruction only for at least the first nine weeks.
"The best education is when we have teachers and students face to face and we want to get there as quickly as we can, but we want to be safe and thoughtful about it," district Superintendent Sean McDaniel told reporters during a conference call Wednesday.
McDaniel said a recent study revealed as many as 30% of the district's 45,000 students were without either internet connectivity or computer access, but that the district used federal coronavirus relief funds to purchase 1,500 internet hotspots and will be distributing computers to all of its students.
"We are searching far and wide to make sure kids don't fall through the cracks," he said.
McDaniel said a decision on whether to hold some fall sports, including high school football, has not been made.
"What we want to do is look at fall sports independently," he said.
Meanwhile, state health officials reported 918 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus across the state, but those numbers include some positive cases that were backlogged because of technical problems with the Department of Health's computer system. The total number of confirmed cases in Oklahoma has now topped 28,000, although the actual number of positive cases is likely much higher since many people haven't been tested and some who get the disease don't show symptoms.
The state also reported an additional 13 deaths Wednesday, bringing the statewide death toll since the start of the pandemic to 474.
For most people, the COVID-19 virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illness, including pneumonia, and be fatal.