NPS Parent Update - August 2
Important information for parents
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As you all know, we have been working diligently to prepare for the start of school. In addition to providing a variety of educational options for families, we have been laser focused on providing a safe pathway to in-person instruction because it is our belief that students learn best when they are in the classroom.
That said, local epidemiologists and physicians have shared with us their concern with schools reopening and have recommended that we delay in-person instruction. We are in the midst of a public health pandemic and we must continue to listen to and follow guidance from the medical professionals who closely monitor state and local conditions during this pandemic.
As a result of this evolving situation, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to begin this school year in a fully virtual format, provided by NPS teachers, for a period of time as we continue to work on plans to phase students back into our buildings as soon as it is safe to do so. We have also pushed the first day of school for students to Monday, Aug. 24, to ensure our educators have adequate time to finalize their lessons and instructional delivery plans.
It has become clear that local Covid-19 cases are rising and the local situation has deteriorated over the past several weeks. In fact, Cleveland County’s cases have surpassed those in Oklahoma County. While some individuals who contract Covid-19 experience mild symptoms, others find themselves in more serious situations. And, medical experts have shared with us that information surrounding how the virus impacts children continues to evolve. This is why we are flexible, adaptable and ready to respond when the situation changes.
We must be mindful of the impact this virus has not only on our children but also on the adults who serve them. Many of our teachers and staff members are at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 and we must continue considering the safety of both children and adults while we continue to focus our plans to safely resume in-person instruction.
Virtual Learning: My commitment to you is that this period of virtual learning will be significantly better than what we were able to provide in the spring. It is important to remember that we were abruptly thrust into an emergency learning scenario and while our teachers did their best, we are much more prepared for the fall. For months now, we have worked around the clock to ensure we would be in a position to provide quality virtual instruction for this scenario and are prepared to deliver a curriculum that is second to none. We are also providing an unprecedented amount of time for our educators to finalize their lessons and instructional delivery plans for this period of virtual instruction.
We plan to deliver this virtual format until there is a decline in Covid-19 cases over a period of time, which will allow us to continue working with local medical professionals on the safe pathway back to in-person instruction. While data will continue to guide us on how to return safely, please know that our goal always has been — and will continue to be — for students to return to our buildings as soon as possible.
Enrollment: Enrollment continues and we understand that when in-person instruction opportunities resume, families will continue to choose the educational option that best suits their needs. Families who have already enrolled in NPS ExpandED program may continue to use that option if they choose.
Technology: Families who indicated on enrollment that they do not have access to a device at home will be assigned one. Those devices will be equipped with filters that are compliant with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Additionally, we have secured two grants that will allow us to provide internet access via filtered hotspots that are compliant with CIPA to families who also indicated on enrollment that they did not have home internet access. More information about distribution of these devices will be provided when it becomes available.
Meals/Activities: We will continue to provide free meals for students in need. Additionally, extracurricular activities will continue with safeguards in place, to the extent possible, as we continue to evaluate activities moving forward.
Students with Special Needs: Families of students with special needs will be contacted directly by Special Services staff and/or their special education teachers. Their learning options are being discussed and finalized collaboratively based on their individualized education programs.
It is absolutely critical that we get students back in our buildings as soon as it is safe to do so, which is why we will continue working on our plans to phase in students and teachers safely into our schools. While this is certainly not how we wanted to start the school year, we must continue to listen to medical experts, err on the side of caution and do everything we can to protect our students, teachers, staff and community at large.
As always, we will continue to communicate updated information with you and also will post details at www.normanpublicschools.org/backtoschool. Thank you for your continued patience and support as we continue to navigate through this ever-evolving and challenging situation.
Dr. Nick Migliorino
Norman Public Schools