OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Public Schools sent some students back to the classroom Tuesday.
Half of pre-k and kindergarteners are back under a school roof for the first time in seven months.
“A little excited and at the same time with all this COVID, a little nervous,” said parent Lilian Bonilla.
There were mixed emotions Tuesday at Hawthorne Elementary.
“I know I won’t be able to see their beautiful smiles, but just to be able to hear their laughter is going to mean the world to me and my staff,” said Hawthorne Elementary Principle Melinda Elms.
All of that excitement also comes with COVID-19 concerns.
Those concerns forcing at least one teacher to resign on Monday.
“And that may not be the last one to do that and again we would just encourage as your making the decisions know the facts and then make your decision and we support that,” said Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel.
Dr. McDaniel working to address anxiety as little masked faces made their way into the building.
“What we’ve tried to do is stick to process, be flexible and then inform, and as long as we can do that, we know that we’re going to have cheerleaders who say that’s exactly what I would’ve done or we’re going to have other who just don’t like it,” said McDaniel. “We need to be at our very best when it comes to monitoring kids and their mask wearing and their social distancing it’s not just another day.”
Every Monday is spent all virtual.
“So, throughout the week we’re able to make contact every other day worst case scenario with every kid,” said McDaniel.
They made the decision to send younger kids back first for various reasons.
“This is a foundation that can’t be redone. Our students need a routine for them to build their learning on,” said Dr. Jamie Polk, the Asst. Superintendent of Elementary Education.
With 5,000 staff members and 36,000 students, Dr. McDaniel says a positive COVID-19 case is inevitable.
“We don’t expect this to be a perfect plan where nobody tests positive and nobody is quarantined, but we have plans in place to address those things that will happen,” said McDaniel.
McDaniel seeks to be transparent with staff and parents.
“We understand that information is power and as long as we can inform you, you may agree or disagree, but you have the information about why we made a decision, what the decision means to you, how this will impact you and kids and families,” he said.
They’ve hired more custodial staff, and are cleaning morning, during the day, and at night.
Teachers also now have the option to fill out a form if they don’t feel their room was cleaned properly.
“They [maintenance department] have created a form so if a teacher feels at any given time that their room or a spot in their room has not been thoroughly cleaned they fill out that form and they give it to their supervisor,” said Polk.
They also emphasized that families need to do their part at home.
“Please be deliberate when our students come home this evening and that’s hand washing get out of their school clothes because this will take all of us,” said Dr. Polk. “It’s just not walking back in the door, we will need you to be cautious in regards of getting hands washed, clothes off, and perhaps shoes off at the door.”
Every kid in each household will be on the same schedule.
It’s determined by the oldest student. If that student is ‘A’ then all kids in the house will be ‘A.’
The results of that are computerized.
Dr. McDaniel says they plan to follow the Department of Education’s color-coded system.
If they are in the red zone, they will switch back to all virtual.
“We try as hard as we can not to say one thing is going to drive our decision” said McDaniel, “but anytime we hit 50… we’re shutting down, but beyond that things could happen where we do not hit the red and we could still shut down,” he said.
First through 12th graders are scheduled to head back November 9th.