School Year To Begin on Monday, August 24 in Distance Learning
Preparing for the start of a new school year during an ongoing pandemic has presented new challenges for all of us. As we have developed options for families and put precautions in place in our return to learn plan, every decision has been framed around the safety of your children and our staff members.
Although we believe students are at their best when they are learning in the classroom, we also must pay attention to the guidance from our state and local agencies. In conjunction with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma State Department of Education has issued a series of recommendations based on the average number of new weekly cases in Tulsa County. We must have a benchmark to follow as we begin this new year. It is important for us to make data-driven decisions when it comes to assessing the risk of students attending school. opening or closing our schools.
Based on the current number of cases in Tulsa County, we have made the decision to begin this school year in distance learning. The first day of school has been pushed back from Wednesday, August 19 to Monday, August 24 to allow teachers and staff members more time to adjust lesson plans to distance learning.
There is no perfect solution, no formula to suit the needs and desires of every employee and every JPS family. Starting the year in distance learning creates its own sets of challenges and raises new questions. However, cases of COVID-19 rose dramatically in July, and we must pay attention to the impact this virus could have on our students, families, and our staff members. It is also critical to be mindful of the role our schools play in the larger community of Jenks and south Tulsa. If we can keep infection rates down among our students and staff, we can help slow the spread in our county and get back to in-person learning much faster.
Distance learning in the fall will be different than the distance learning students experienced in the spring. In the spring, distance learning focused on maintaining and deepening existing skills and content, while introducing key concepts and skills from the fourth quarter curriculum. For the fall, there will be more interaction between teachers and students. Teachers will present new content using a variety of methods, while also coordinating instructional activities, assessments, and grades. All distance learning experiences will be created by JPS teachers.
What if I selected the virtual or blended option for my child and I want to switch to distance learning?
You can do so. Over the next several days, every family that opted-in to the Trojan Connect Program (all virtual) or the blended option, will receive a call from their child’s school site to either confirm their initial choice or switch to distance learning. If you choose for your child to remain in the Trojan Connect Program or the blended option, you are committing to that choice for the full fall semester. If you switch to distance learning, your child will attend school in-person once it is safe to do so and the district can transition out of distance learning.
Parents who would still like to select the Trojan Connect Program or the blended option may click the links below to opt-in by August 7th.
How long will JPS remain in distance learning?
There is no timetable for a return to in-person learning. While the goal is to have students return to school as soon as possible, JPS will continue to rely on data to determine when schools can safely re-open. District officials will continue to monitor the data from state and local health agencies. Once the risk level is at yellow – fewer than 14.39 cases per 100,000 – for two weeks, JPS officials will begin looking at safely transitioning to in-person learning and bringing students back into the classroom. JPS will also consider data from other sources (i.e. how other school districts are handling in-person classes) to determine if it is appropriate to bring students back on campus. JPS will provide as much notice to families as possible when transitioning from distance learning to in-person learning.
Will students still be able to participate in activities and athletics?
Yes. Students have a choice whether to participate in extracurricular activities. Activities and athletics for grades 7-12 will continue with safety protocols in place. All protocols for practices, rehearsals, games, and events will be continually evaluated and are subject to change.
Will any students be able to attend school during this time?
Students with disabilities who are unable to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) solely through a distance learning environment (as determined by the IEP team) and those students who are unable to receive instructional services through distance learning, may receive certain services at a school site that is otherwise closed. Families of students with disabilities will be contacted directly by staff members from their school site or by their special education teachers.
When the State Department of Education ordered schools closed in March, 2020, no students were allowed to receive educational service on the grounds of the District for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. These restrictions are no longer in effect. Now when a school closure is deemed appropriate by the District, the State Department of Education is permitting the District to provide educational services at a school site for certain students with a disability. Whether such a student’s needs require on-site instructional services will be made by the student’s IEP (Individual Education Program) or Section 504 team pursuant to the District’s obligation to provide FAPE.
In making its determination, the student's team will determine the extent to which the student will receive FAPE from a virtual or distance learning program. Dependent on the student’s individual requirements for FAPE, the student's team will determine the extent to which on-site services are necessary. All such on-site services will be in compliance with guidance provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Center for Disease Control.
What will JPS do for families who need assistance with technology and internet access?
Families who indicated during enrollment that they do not have a device at home to use for distance learning or virtual learning will be assigned a district device. Those devices will have filters compliant with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). JPS has secured a grant allowing the district to provide internet access via filtered hotspots to families who indicated that they do not have home internet access. More information about distribution of these devices will be provided when it becomes available.
Will meals be available for students during the distance learning period?
Yes. JPS is working on plans to provide meals for students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. To apply for Free and Reduced Lunch, click here.
Thank you for your understanding as we continue to adapt our practices and evaluate our policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please monitor your email, log on to the JPS website, and check all JPS social media platforms for the latest information.