Mid-Del schools splitting schedule, Yukon to start virtually
Metro area schools continue to adjust reopening plans as rising COVID-19 rates loom over the first day of school.
Midwest City-Del City Public Schools approved on Friday an alternating A/B schedule to limit the number of students in its buildings. Its first day of school is Aug. 24.
Yukon Public Schools elected to start the school year virtually on Aug. 20.
Mid-Del will group its 14,000 students into Group A and Group B.
Group A will attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays while Group B students complete schoolwork at home. Group B will come on Thursdays and Fridays while Group A has at-home learning. Teachers will use the Canvas Learning Management System for online access to lessons.
The groups will rotate attending on Wednesdays. The district calendar will show which group is expected to come to school on Wednesday each week.
All students and staff must wear a face covering while at school.
Mid-Del will re-evaluate in mid-September whether to continue the split schedule, Superintendent Rick Cobb wrote in a letter to families.
“I realize that this isn’t the way any of us truly want to start the school year,” Cobb wrote. “Feedback we have received from parents and staff consistently emphasize both the importance of educating our children and following the safety protocols put forth by health experts. This plan balances those two priorities.”
Plans for school activities and athletics will vary, Cobb wrote.
Mid-Del also offers a full-time online curriculum that requires a yearlong commitment for enrollees. Students would complete all classwork entirely at home but still qualify for extracurricular activities.
This week, Oklahoma County recorded 19.74 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, reaching the level at which the Oklahoma State Department of Education recommends schools consider alternate schedules or distance learning. The department's color-coded COVID-19 alert system is based on each county's per-capita data.
Edmond Public Schools adopted a similar split schedule this week, though it will not have students attend on Wednesdays.
Superintendent Jason Simeroth said two people in his office have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past month, and others have been exposed to the virus.
“We wear masks everywhere,” Simeroth said in a video message. “These are semi-controlled settings. This is without 8,000 or 9,000 students coming back. I just can’t live with the fact that if we bring kids back to school and someone gets sick and someone dies, and if it’s a child, that’s the worst thing that we can have is that happening.”
Yukon is providing a device to each of its 8,800 students to access online schooling.
Administrators will present a recommendation to the district school board in October for whether to continue virtually or return to in-person learning, Simeroth said.
Some extracurricular activities will continue while students are in distance learning. No club meetings are allowed, but contests sanctioned through the Oklahoma State Secondary Activities Association might continue, including athletics, FFA and music competitions.
Canadian County, where Yukon schools are located, falls below the state Department of Education’s recommended level for school closure with 11.57 cases per 100,000 people.
The county currently is within the Yellow Level, between 1.43 and 14.39 cases per 100,000. The state advises schools at this level to implement a mask mandate for all, restrict visitors and limit large gatherings.
“Safety for our masses is at stake here, and we as a district and as a school board believe this is the appropriate response to the conditions we’re in,” Simeroth said. “We feel very strongly that this is the correct step.”