It could be way more than just an extended spring break as school buildings in Oklahoma might stay closed for the rest of the current school year.
However, that doesn't mean the learning will stop as PV's school superintendent, Mike Martin, expects state officials will want local districts to figure out alternative ways of keeping this year's classes going without bringing students back into the actual schools.
The official word is expected Wednesday, March 25 as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has announced she's recommending the state board consider numerous waivers, including school building closure for the rest of the school year and district implementation of “continuous learning” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The word got out earlier this week the state's education board is going to look at keeping schools in the state closed through June 30. For now that date has been set for April 6.
“Things have changed for the CDC,” Martin said in a reference to this new summer date and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Now it's their opinion we're in a community spread. With the virus spreading into the community it changes the CDC guidelines.
“They believe two weeks does not help flatten the curve,” he said, referring to the more local cases of confirmed coronavirus. Earlier this week there were two positive cases in Garvin County.
“There are so many things we need to figure out, like how to get things to the kids and make sure they don't back slide.”
Hofmeister announced this week she is proposing a “continuous learning plan” to complete the school year for Oklahoma students without reopening school buildings during the global pandemic.
She says while the education of students will resume with distance learning, there will not be traditional, in-person instruction or extracurricular activities, instead following safety guidance from the CDC with regard to social distancing for students, staff and school families.
In the course of a week Hofmeister says the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has secured federal waivers removing the burden of statewide assessments and permitting the delivery or curbside pick-up of nutritional meals for qualifying students for the remainder of the school year.
"Our districts have begun planning their alternative delivery methods to support student learning as they prepare to reconnect students with their teachers in adaptive ways,” she said.
“I have faith in the commitment, innovation and creativity of Oklahoma educators and administrators. Many districts across our state have utilized online instruction already and likely will be able to hit the ground running. Other districts have significant technology limitations, while some might opt for instructional materials delivered to students.
“There will be a wide range of approaches and it will be far from ideal, but necessary, as we embrace these changes and even sacrifice to protect the public health of our communities.”
In Pauls Valley it's Martin who says the job of figuring how to make this off-site education work begins very soon when he can get with staff and start the planning process.
“We need to start to figure out how to educate these kids. Everything is on the table,” he said.
“This does change the school year as we know it. I'm getting a lot of questions from parents and hopefully we start to figure this out when I can get back with my staff and start planning.”
With the exception of the meal service for students, school employees have been instructed to keep the work business on hold until at least April 6.
Another big question with this unprecedented situation coming from the coronavirus is what will happen to things like Pauls Valley seniors getting the chance to wear the cap and gown of a graduation ceremony.
“I want people to know we'll do everything we can to keep our Pauls Valley traditions going, meaning graduation,” Martin said.
“We're going to have graduation, even if we have it in July or August. I've told many of our senior parents our kids deserve it after earning their high school diploma in Pauls Valley.”
The superintendent also adds on Monday there were nearly 200 meals for kids that were delivered or picked up by parents at PV Junior High. It was the first day of this new food service for school kids.