As positive COVID-19 cases rage in Muskogee County and in the area’s schools, including Hilldale and Fort Gibson, Muskogee Schools, which have also had positive cases of both students and faculty, will start the school year on Aug. 31, followed by a solid week of in-person education. After that, students will have the next week at home, doing distance learning. The week after that, they’re back in school for four more weeks, then another week of distance learning.
Asked whether gathering all the students together and then sending them home and then gathering them all together might defeat the purpose of distance learning, which is sheltering in place to avoid spread of the virus, the schools demurred. Spokesman Steve Braun offered the following statement:
This was and is a difficult decision and we have put measures in place with mask mandates and cleaning to try to keep students and staff safe.
We will continue to monitor and make adjustments as necessary as we go into and through the school year.
We have given options to families with the E-Learning Academy or students in buildings. Currently over 1,500 students and their families signed up for the E-Learning Academy and nearly 4,000 students and their families have chosen a traditional learning model.
The Superintendent and the Board of Education will continue to monitor and make adjustments as necessary.
In total, the school has five weeks of distance learning scheduled throughout the year, which ends on May 26, 2021 — another distance learning day.
Starting the school year with a week of in-person learning, Braun said, is so students can get to know their teachers.
“The thought behind the start of school schedule is for students to become familiar with their teachers in the first week, then following Laborday, use those four days to also become familiar with virtual work,” he said. “We will also use virtual days instead of being out due to snow or inclement weather.”
Overall, the majority of days during the school year will have students packed together in classrooms in person.