State Board of Education closes all Oklahoma schools but says meals will continue

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Department of Education called an emergency meeting Monday afternoon to shut down all schools to help contain the spread of COVID-19. 

The Board of Education announced after the state saw community spread over the weekend, it had no choice but to close all schools until at least April 6th. 

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says in a press conference this wasn’t a simple decision, but it is what’s best for the safety and health of all students of Oklahoma. 

“It’s getting scary,” Jessica Sullivan said. “Do I leave the kids by themselves or do we not go to work and not pay bills?”

It’s a double-edged sword Jessica Sullivan, an Edmond mom of two, is worried she could face. 

“Today with the news, it became more overwhelming,” Sullivan said. 

Late Monday afternoon, the State Department of Education called an emergency meeting. The board voted unanimously to shut down all Oklahoma schools the state until at least April 6th to help contain the spread of COVID-19. 

Deer Creek mother, Amber Morrical says she is relieved. 

“We just don’t know much about this virus, so it’s better safe than sorry,” Amber Morrical said. 

But the back-to-school date for nearly 700,000 students statewide isn’t set in stone.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister tells News 4 the date could be extended if needed. 

“There is going to be a hardship this brings and we recognize that,” State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said. 

This means no instruction and no extracurricular activities for at least three weeks. 

“There are zero options,” Sullivan said. “How do you plan?”

However, maintenance and nutritional services will continue. 

The state received grants from the United States Department of Agriculture to keep meals going through this time off. 

It will be on a district by district basis if the meals are delivered to the home personally or if they will available at a designated pick up location. 

News 4 also asked the state about teacher pay. 

“We don’t want them to be concerned,” Joy Hofmeister said. “They are going to be taken care of. We are actively working to do that.”

State testing and a potential summer extension are set to be decided at a later date. 

Hofmeister says she is focusing on the needed materials over the next few weeks and will have more announcements later this week. 

As for seniors preparing to graduate, the state says this will also be on a district by district basis. 

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