State Superintendent meets with CDC to discuss guidelines on going back to school in the fall

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) –Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister met with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday afternoon to discuss the guidelines they released for going back to school in the fall.

“We are working to have a state level plan for the reopening of schools,” Hofmeister said.

The main point Hofmeister said she learned from the CDC was context.

“The most important thing is to think about safeguard snaps as layers or important ingredients that work together,” she said.

Hofmeister added that what some districts adopt may be different than others, citing things like resources and school population as reasons for schools implementing what guidelines work best for them.

The CDC’s guidelines read as follows:

◦ Wear masks over the age of 2

◦ No sharing of any items or supplies, all belongings in individual cubbies or labeled containers; no sharing electronic devices, toys, games, learning aids

◦ Desks 6 feet apart, all facing the same way

◦ Distance on school buses- one child per seat, skip rows

◦ Install sneeze guards and partitions wherever you cannot space 6ft apart

◦ One way routes in hallways; tape on sidewalks and walls to assure kids stay 6ft apart

◦ No communal shared spaces – cafeterias, playgrounds

◦ Physical barriers or screens between sinks in bathrooms

◦ Only pre-packages boxes or bags of food instead of cafeteria food; kids eat in classrooms

◦ No field trips, assemblies, or external organizations in the schools. Limit volunteers and visitors.

◦ Same children stay with same staff all day, no switching groups or teachers.

◦ Stagger arrival and departure times for students to limit exposure to crowds of kids.

◦ If possible, daily health and temperature checks.

◦ And several rules about cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day and hand washing frequently.

“All of this has to work in context, and it’s important that stakeholders give their feedback and share what their comfort level is,” Hofmeister said.

Those stakeholders, or parents, have already started chiming in.

“I think they are extremely strict,” said Cara O’Daniel, a woman whose children go to Edmond Public Schools. “Especially for somewhere here in Oklahoma, a lot of ways they are not feasible.”

“I think they’re a little extreme,” said Beth Gentry, a woman whose children go to Oklahoma City Public Schools. “When my 11-year-old and I were talking this morning, I was reading them with her, and she was like, ‘We’re going to be like mice in cages.’”

While both O’Daniel and Gentry agreed that the guidelines are strict, they had differing opinions on whether the children should be going back to school in August. Gentry said she was ready for her kids to go back. O’Daniel was a little more hesitant. She said she wanted to wait for Edmond Public Schools to make a decision on the guidelines being implemented, then she would make a decision if she want to enroll her kids there again.

Oklahoma City Public Schools also released a statement that reads as follows:

“Although we are not sure what it will look like just yet, OKCPS does plan to begin school on August 10th. District teams are closely monitoring the guidelines being shared by local, state and federal officials as we work with other districts across the country to prepare for a number of back-to-school scenarios, including in-person, virtual and blended learning solutions. As circumstances shift in the coming weeks, OKCPS will continue to be nimble while always keeping safety at the forefront. Although it’s especially hard to do in these times of uncertainty, we encourage our students, staff and families to please remain patient. District leaders are hard at work and will share more information as soon as it is available.”

Oklahoma City Public Schools

Hofmeister said she hopes schools will find ways to implement these guidelines over the summer break.

“This is about a culture of thinking of others and thinking how to protect others and yourself,” she said.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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