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Rural Oklahoma School Districts Are Back To School – In Person

Gov. Kevin Stitt's office
Gov. Kevin Stitt (left) tours a school in Hennessey, Okla. led by superintendent Mike Woods last week.

Many rural school districts across Oklahoma are back in school. 

And unlike thegrowing number of urban and suburban schools coming back this fall– these smaller districts are coming back in person.

Hennessey Public Schools, 60 miles north of Oklahoma City, has opened its doors to students and almost all of them are attending school in person.

During a tour by mask-clad Governor Kevin Stitt last week, district superintendent Mike Woods says the school has instituted thermal scanning, a strict cleaning regimen and social distancing wherever possible.

“We’re doing that because it is important for us to be back in school and to be here for our kids,” Woods said.

Jennings Public Schools, 40 miles west of Tulsa has also come back in person. 

The district supplied each student with a face covering and is encouraging them to wear it, will be doing temperature checks and is asking parents to do screenings at home for students before they come into school.

Students will be kept in grade clusters throughout the day and social distancing will be maintained.

“We hope that we have a successful school year,” Jennings superintendent Derrick Meador said in a Facebook video welcoming students back to school last week. “We know that there’s going to be challenges that we’re not expecting. These are different times that we live in. But we’ve got a great group of students, a great group of teachers and staff members that will definitely rise to the occasion.” 

But there have already been a couple scares in the state.

After one week in session, Kingston Public Schools near Lake Texoma, has already pivoted to distance learning this week. The switch comes after a staff member had a positive exposure, a letter to parents said.

The letter said that paper packets would be used initially, and the district was making an effort to get Google Chromebooks ready for instruction. Many Oklahoma school districts had to lean on paper packets for distance learning last spring because of a lack of internet access.

A message left for Kingston superintendent Brian Brister was not returned.

Bennington Public Schools – in southeastern Oklahoma – delayed their first day of school last week because of a staff member’s positive test. The district is now back in session for in person instruction.

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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