Jenks Public Schools to open 2020-2021 with Distance Learning
Several weeks after releasing a three-option “Return to Learn” plan, Jenks Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stacey Butterfield announced Monday that all students in the Jenks school district will begin the year in a Distance Learning plan due to the rise in COVID-19 numbers in Tulsa County.
The announcement came during a Jenks Public Schools Board of Education meeting. The 2020-2021 school year was slated to begin Aug. 19 for Jenks, but after Monday’s news, the start date is now Aug. 24.
“After the July 13 School Board meeting when we rolled out the three-option learning plan, we were excited and thought that was how we were going to begin the school year,” Butterfield said. “As the number of positive cases in Tulsa County continued to increase, along with the recommendations from the (Oklahoma) State Board of Education and (Oklahoma) State Department of Health, our team looked and said it would be hard to determine what metric to follow if we didn’t follow this.”
The original “Return to Learn” plan was put together by Jenks Public Schools Administration and approved by the Jenks Public Schools Board of Education in mid-July. It consisted of three options, which included at-school learning, all-virtual learning, and blended learning.
The original three-option plan will go back into effect when it is deemed safe for the students to return to the classrooms and Distance Learning is no longer required. Because of that, the deadline to opt into the all-virtual learning plan remains this Friday.
Jenks Public Schools will remain in the Distance Learning plan until Tulsa County’s COVID-19 numbers are in the “Yellow Level” of the COVID-19 Alert Levels Chart from the State Board of Education. The “Yellow Level” means no more than 14.39 cases per 100,000 people.
“We took a deeper dive into the color-coded system and felt that is where we needed to be,” Butterfield said. “Our goal is to be at school with our students and our employees. We are more comfortable knowing if we can get these numbers down in Tulsa County, they are going to start looking at transitioning us back to at-school. We are looking at two-consecutive weeks in the ‘Yellow’ before we stop the required Distance Learning. There also may be other information we may be gaining as well. Everyone is learning as we go, we are building the plane as we fly it.”
Jenks Public Schools transitioned to a Distance Learning plan in mid-March after the global pandemic infiltrated the Jenks community. According to Jenks Public Schools Administration, this version of Distance Learning will be different than the one in the spring.
This fall, Distance Learning included summer planning and preparation. It will include teaching, assessing, and grading new content and concepts and will require a larger time commitment. Devices and internet access support will also be available.
“This gives our parents an opportunity to plan and our teachers to plan,” Butterfield said. “As soon as we launch our Distance Learning plan on Aug. 24, our internal leadership team will turn its focus back to at-school learning. When we are bringing our kids back, we want to be ready.”
With the news of opening the academic year with Distance Learning, one of the main questions from people was regarding students in extra-curricular activities or athletics and what that meant for those programs to start the new year.
“We are continuing activities and athletics,” Butterfield said. “The Jenks model for Distance Learning is going to look different than others. There will be some students who come to school for services that best meets their individual education plan and their needs. As we meet students’ academic needs, we also want to give the opportunity for those secondary students that are engaged in activities or athletics to continue those activities as well. The reason being, just as academics are important, for some students, they are working toward college opportunities or employment opportunities beyond high school through their activities or athletics. We want them to have those options.”