OK schools prepare for problems with online learning as positive COVID-19 cases pop up

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 7:20 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) -Mannsville and Kingston public schools joined Boswell Public Schools in moving instruction online after faculty tested positive for COVID-19.

Silo Public Schools will keep just one classroom of early education students at home after a student tested positive.

Achille Public Schools are keeping 7th through 9th graders home after a teacher tested positive.

Ada, Latta, and Calera school districts pushed back their start dates to get more prepared.

Kingston Superintendent Brian Brister said it wasn’t easy to tell students the school was shutting down for two weeks.

“They were so excited those first two days to see their friends and get back into their normal routine of school,” Brister said.

Brister said the district was working hard to update technology and try to help all students distance learn when they had to shut down.

“The only thing we can do right now is do the paper packets,” Kingston said. “Our teachers are passing those out and parents are picking those up.”

Mannsville Public Schools shut down too, but Superintendent Brandi Price says she felt prepared.

“There’s obviously things that come up that you don’t anticipate, but we’re trying to work through anything that’s coming up and do what’s best for our kids,” Price said.

Silo Public Schools had a COVID positive student, but since the student was in an early education class, only that classroom will quarantine for two weeks.

“At the lower grades they’re able to self-contain in a classroom, so they’re within just that group of kids throughout the day,” Silo Public Schools Superintendent Kate McDonald said.

McDonald said the district prepared by creating a plan with the health department and made sure online learning was available to all students.

“We’re prepared to make that transition,” McDonald said.

Price said reaching WiFi wasn’t the only worry with distance learning. In Mannsville, 94 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch.

Price said there are two days scheduled where families can pick up a meal.

“I’ve got cafeteria workers right now working to make meals to hand out tomorrow,” Price said.

Many Kingston students also rely on meals provided by the school. Since a cafeteria worker tested COVID-positive, Brister said they can’t make the same arrangements as Mannsville.

“It’s especially devastating,” Brister said. “That gives you no way to feed your students.”

The hotspots given to districts by the Oklahoma State Department of Education will be coming in around the time Kingston students can go back to campus.

Brister said the district also purchased eight for school buses, which will be parked around the district in the event the district needs to go back to distance learning.

“Those who don’t have access to WiFi can come and park and use the WiFi off the bus,” Brister said.

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