After saying it would be up to school districts to make closure calls last week, state reverses to enforce massive closings.
Oklahoma students won’t come back to school until at least April 6.
In a move to stop the spread of COVID-19, a global pandemic that’s spread to Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to close schools and stop instruction for two weeks after spring break.
The move comes after state education leaders were defiant last week, saying it would ultimately be up to local districts to make a decision about school closures.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the sudden growth and need to keep the novel coronavirus contained made the move necessary.
“We are a state system of public education, and we need to be operating together with a uniformed approach and with a unified voice. We are very pleased that the governor also supported this decision,” Hofmeister said.
The board could come back and lengthen the closure if it deems the move necessary. In the meantime, Hofmeister said she and other state officials would work to make sure that people were safe.
No instruction will occur during the extended break, but the state department will look for ways to make sure children can receive some instruction moving forward.
“There are hurdles that we as an agency will address so that schools can close for as long as is needed,” she said.
Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel released a statement supporting the decision shortly after the meeting concluded.
“Together, we are facing an unprecedented health crisis in our community,” McDaniel said in a prepared statement. “In our response to COVID-19, OKCPS and other districts must depend on the wisdom of our health experts and elected officials and lean on the resolve of our strong community. I am grateful for State Superintendent Hofmeister’s leadership during this crisis and for the State Board of Education’s action today.”
The OKCPS school board will meet Tuesday to determine next steps.
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