Jenks Public Schools set to begin new year

Jenks Public Schools set to begin new year

In early August, Jenks Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stacey Butterfield announced at the monthly School Board meeting that the district would begin the 2020-2021 with distance learning due to the COVID-19 numbers in Tulsa County.

School was originally supposed to begin for Jenks Wednesday, but after the announcement about distance learning, the start date was pushed back to Aug. 24 (Monday).

“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 at the August meeting after making her distance learning announcement. “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.

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.”

Kyle Salomon

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