StateImpact Oklahoma | KGOU

StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Schools' COVID-19 Guidelines Are Widely Ignored By Many Rural Districts

Aug 24, 2020
Stilwell Superintendent Geri Gilstrap originally recommended the district start the school year with distance learning, but the Stilwell Board of Education voted in favor of the community's wishes to reopen in-person classes.
Faith Phillips / Stilwll High School

The 800 residents of Dewar have been fairly split.

Half of the eastern Oklahoma town’s parents told the local school district they refused to send their children to school with a mask, Superintendent Todd Been said. The other half wouldn’t send their children unless everyone wore one.

Registered nurses Geri Taylor, left, and Joni Phelps, go through paperwork at a mobile testing site for COVID_19 at the Murray County Expo Center in Sulphur, Okla., Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Oklahoma has been in a nursing shortage for decades, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney reports on the unique strain COVID-19 has placed on hospital nursing teams.

Screen capture

In less than five minutes two of Oklahoma County’s three county commissioners voted to transfer more than $34 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to the county jail trust. The board of county commissioners ignored days of protests against the move from local residents and one of their fellow commissioners.

The Oklahoma County Jail.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Despite controversy and legal concerns, Oklahoma County will allot nearly all of its coronavirus relief funding to its jail.

Shawnee Public Schools custodian Lavonne Harris wipes down a door knob at the district’s central office.
Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma has continued allotting its $1.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding, but education officials worry that might not be enough. 

"Alfalfa" Bill Murray
Oklahoma Historical Society

When Oklahoma A&M officials told Alfalfa Bill Murray they wanted to put his name on a university building in 1935, he wasn’t sure it was a good idea.

State Question 805 Qualifies For 2020 Ballot

Jul 30, 2020
Proponents of State Question 805 gathered for a rally in Oklahoma City.
Photo provided.

The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that enough voter signatures were collected to put a question regarding sentence enhancements for nonviolent offenders on the Nov. 3 ballot.

OCCC Moves All Classes Online For Fall 2020

Jul 29, 2020
Oklahoma City Community College
Twitter / OCCC

Citing rising COVID-19 numbers, Oklahoma City Community College announced Wednesday it is moving all its classes this fall online. It's the first public college in Oklahoma to announce such a move.

Epic Charter Schools Becomes Oklahoma's Largest School District

Jul 28, 2020
An Epic Charter School administrative office.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Epic Charter Schools is now the largest district in Oklahoma.

Society of Professional Journalists

This is the Manager’s Minute …


Oklahoma State Board Of Education Punts On Mask Mandate For Schools

Jul 23, 2020
Masks like these sewed by Edmond eighth grader Abby Pike will not be required in the state's schools after a motion to do so failed at Thursday's Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting.
Courtesy Abby Pike

Following hours of contentious debate, Oklahoma’s State Board of Education voted down a proposal that would’ve mandated masks in many schools.

Defund Police Vote Exposes Deep Divisions In Norman

Jul 16, 2020
Protesters hold signs during a City Council meeting, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at Norman City Hall.
Photo Courtesy of Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript

When Norman City Council Member Kate Bierman looked out at the dozens of residents who came to hear the council’s vote on police funding, she felt it was time to address questions about racial equity and the role of police.

OU Medicine President and CEO Chuck Spicer said the facility surpassed 100 percent of its capacity last week.
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

As Oklahoma’s coronavirus case counts continue to break records, some of the state’s top medical experts are ringing alarm bells about hospital capacity.

Walton Family Foundation

This is the Manager’s Minute.


KGOU, StateImpact Oklahoma and our public radio partners are ramping up efforts to report on the 2020 elections through Oklahoma Engaged. 

This is the Manager’s Minute.


A picture of Quartz Mountain with the Oklahoma Arts Institute logo. The institute was forced to move online by the coronavirus.
Courtesy Oklahoma Arts Institute

Maida Escobar was hesitant to attend the Oklahoma Arts Institute this summer.

She had so many questions about how the state’s premier arts program for high school students could go online.

“I was like how is that gonna work?” the Muskogee High School student said. “Should I even do it? Is it gonna be the same?”

Oklahoma City Black Lives Matter Requests More Robust, Transparent Police Oversight

Jun 18, 2020
Protesters march to the state Capitol building.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A 57-year-old black woman accused an Oklahoma City police officer of rape in 2014. Her accusation led to the investigation, arrest and conviction of Daniel Holtzclaw.

Oklahoma Child Care Leaders Share How They’ve Dealt With Positive COVID-19 Cases

Jun 11, 2020
The entrance to the Children's Center at St. Luke's Methodist Church in downtown Oklahoma City.
Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

The call from the health department still sticks in Gabrielle Moon’s mind.

There was a positive case of the coronavirus at St. Luke’s Children’s Center.

Activists Call For Norman Public Schools To Get Rid Of Resource Officers

Jun 10, 2020
Alison Williams, 14, talks about her experience with school resource officers as a 12-year-old student at Irving Middle School in Norman.
Screen capture / City of Norman

Alison Williams said her first run-in with school resource officers was traumatic.

She remembers being handcuffed as a 12-year-old Irving Middle School student after getting in a fight with someone she said was bullying her. After the dust settled administrators at her school took action.

State Budget Cuts Put Oklahoma’s Higher Education Funding Back In The 20th Century

May 29, 2020
The University of Oklahoma campus. The Norman campus is empty because students have moved all their in-person classes to the web.
Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

COVID-19 cuts to colleges have led to a state appropriation that’s lower than it was in 2000.