As COVID-19 continues to spread, the big question now is how schools will be able to restart this fall. Muskogee Public Schools Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall is tasked with answering this question for his schools.
"I will say this has forced us to really rethink schooling,” Mendenhall said. “We're doing things and really building it as we go.”
Mendenhall unveiled a blended learning plan to give both in-person and online classes options during a virtual town hall last week.
"This is their school district. It's not mine,” Mendenhall said. “And so, my job is to facilitate and provide the very best education while I'm here. It’s their school, their money and their kids, so I’ve got to make sure I’m listening."
For the in-class option, families will have to sign a contract to send their student to school, as well as answer questions about their student's health. All staff will need daily temperature checks. Classrooms and buses will receive additional cleanings. Students and staff would have to wear masks, and schools will also provide masks, if needed.
For online learning, Muskogee schools will provide what is called an "E-Learning Academy." Students will receive Chromebooks and receive instruction from Muskogee teachers.
The plan is to return to school on August 12. Mendenhall said they are asking families for feedback.
The most controversial topic so far is how the schools will enforce wearing masks, especially with younger students. Despite the mixed opinions, Mendenhall said he appreciates the feedback and stressed the district plans to be as transparent as possible.
"We’re going to make decisions on what the CDC tells us, but we feel like we are doing the very best with what information we have now," Mendenhall said. "There's not a perfect scenario."
Mendenhall said this is just a proposal, but the school board will have to vote on it for the plan to go into effect.
The next school board meeting is set for July 21. Parents can enroll their students for the E-Learning Academy beginning July 13.