Edmond School District delegates power to superintendent to make changes amid pandemic, parents upset by decision

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A community member expressing her frustration during the Edmond School Board meeting.

Update: At this time, the video has been removed from this story.

EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – The Edmond School Board voted unanimously Friday to delegate power to make changes amid the pandemic to superintendent Angela Grunewald.

Some called it communism, while others called it common sense. The fiery school board meeting ended with some confrontation after board members voted to pass the buck to the superintendent as cases in the district skyrocket. Grunewald said no changes will be made today, but she left open the possibility of changes in the future. Some parents at the meeting were less than pleased with their decision.

“Our purpose is to keep students in school,” Grunewald said.

“It’s our concern is that our individual rights are being eroded and that the rights of the parents are being compromised,” said state Sen. Jake Merrick, R-District 22.

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Edmond Superintendent Angela Grunewald

Grunewald said their reasoning for the decision was due to the constant changes occurring during the pandemic.

“We do see our cases going up,” Grunewald said. “When that happens, changes need to be made quickly at times.”

“They just abrogated their responsibility, deferred all responsibility to the superintendent trying to get around this law,” Merrick said.

The move is similar to that of Oklahoma City Public Schools, who recently mandated masks despite a state law forbidding it. Some parents at the meeting, including Merrick, were not happy.

“You violated state law,” one person yelled in the crowd. “You violated state law!”

“That’s horrible,” another person yelled.

“Last year we didn’t see numbers anywhere close to the numbers that we have this year,” Grunewald said.

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A community member expressing her frustration during the Edmond School Board meeting.

At the district’s peak last year in December, Grunewald said they reached 170 positive cases. Now, 12 days into the semester, the district has 383 cases involving students with just under 3,000 of them in quarantine, which includes both students who tested positive for COVID-19 and students who came in close contact with positive cases. Multiple staff members, 40, have also tested positive. Parents made it clear they are still not on board with Friday’s decision.

“We all know that masks don’t work,” an angry parent who did not want to give KFOR her name said. “Maybe we should bring restaurant tables into the schools because, you know, the virus is so smart that if it’s a restaurant table it knows not to infect someone.”

Although parents are afraid this will turn into a mask mandate in Edmond schools, it hasn’t happened yet.

“There will not be any changes today,” Grunewald said.

As KFOR and other media outlets left to speak with Grunewald, parents followed close behind. At one point, police had to come out and make sure none of them came through the door that led to her office.

“This is communism,” an angry parent said as she walked down the hallway filming herself with her phone. “This is what communism looks like.”

Grunewald said she is unable to explain their anger. The parents and school district are set to move forward now as they try to navigate the new school year.

“We will continue to do what is best for kids,” Grunewald said.

“There’s a line that we will not cross and we will not allow you to cross,” Merrick said. “It’s a line to our personal freedom.”

Some parents at the meeting threatened to take their kids into homeschooling. The superintendent said she wishes everyone would stay, but that people need to do what’s best for their families. Grunewald added that there was no public comment in the meeting because they never do that for those types of special meetings. Instead, she said those meetings are used to address a small amount of items quickly.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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