Joy Hofmeister

In a meeting Thursday, Oklahoma’s State Board of Education briefly discussed a need for schools to take the lead on fighting racism.

State Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says she wants schools to be the first place to fight systemic racism in Oklahoma. Hofmeister addressed district leaders in a letter earlier this month, calling on schools to make sure they’re thinking of racial equality. During the meeting, she echoed the letter.

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School districts struggling financially will soon get some relief via federal CARES Act grants from Governor Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

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In a Thursday meeting, Oklahoma’s State Board of Education opened the door for school districts to have school on Saturdays in the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

The flexibility waiver to allow school on Saturdays, which was approved by a vote of five to two, isn’t designed to create six day school weeks in Oklahoma.

Rather, its proponents want school districts to have an option to get creative as they plan for contingencies around COVID-19.

The dissenting board members said they thought the motion could be abused and students’ weekends should be protected.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

The coronavirus will change school next fall.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has issued a series of guidelines for schools. But will we see a statewide shutdown of schools and shift to distance learning next fall like we did this spring?

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

School is about to be out for summer.

Spring 2020 was a semester like no other after Oklahoma schools switched to a distance learning environment to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Shortly after U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged Governor Kevin Stitt to spend federal relief funds on private school vouchers, Oklahoma’s top education official touted a different idea.

A group of rural Oklahoma lawmakers are asking the State Department of Education to reconsider rules they say would end four-day school weeks.

The 16 Republican representatives are calling on the state to make a waiver that would allow for shorter school calendars more attainable.

Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, is leading the charge. In a statement, she said four-day school weeks are important for keeping rural school districts afloat.

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School has shifted to distance learning for the rest of this academic year. And it’s too soon to say if in-person classes at Oklahoma schools will be back in session next fall.  But State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says educators are working carefully to prepare for any educational scenario in the fall.

"That work has just begun, but it will address many scenarios," Hofmeister said.

Though it’s unclear what school will look like, recent graduates and others will be able to teach in Oklahoma in fall 2020.

The state school board voted to unanimously allow a one-time, single year certification for people who were on track to get their certification. Typical certification procedures were halted because teaching candidates couldn’t finish student teaching or take some final required tests.

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The Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting came to a halt Thursday, following a five minute disruption filled with sexist and racist slurs from unknown intruders, or so-called 'Zoombombers'.

After the pause, the department booted the offending members from the Zoom teleconference call and suspended comment in a chat box.

Following the meeting, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she was disappointed in the disruption, but it was just a difficult fact of life.

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