Stillwater Public Schools Parents Sue District Over Distance Learning Policy

Sep 29, 2020

Credit facebook.com/onwardpioneers

Six parents of Stillwater Public Schools students are suing their childrens’ district over its distance learning policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit alleges the district’s policies to deal with the pandemic — shifting to virtual instruction when there are more than 50 new covid cases per 100,000 people in Payne County — is over the top.

The parents, in what appears to be the first suit of its type in Oklahoma, say their children have been negatively affected by the pivot to distance learning. They say they’ve experienced slipping grades, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts because of digital instruction.

A Stillwater Public Schools’ spokesman declined to talk about the pending litigation.

However, the district is currently conducting school in person on a rotational A/B cohort schedule. They had previously been on distance learning for five weeks based on Oklahoma State Department of Education guidelines as Payne County battled community spread.

The district plans to transition to a new plan that allows for more scenarios for in-person instruction later this month.

The rotational schedule has half of the district’s students come on Monday and Tuesday, the other half come on Wednesday and Thursday and everyone does virtual schooling on Fridays. Full virtual school is also an option for Stillwater students.

The plan is designed to limit the number of students in school at a time to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Stillwater Public Schools has had 21 students and 7 staff members test positive for COVID-19, according to the district’s COVID dashboard. The district has about 6,000 students.

According to a StateImpact database, roughly half of Oklahoma’s school districts have reported at least one positive case of COVID-19.

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