The Oklahoma State Department of Education has updated their “Return to Learn Plan” as the Sooner State inches closer to the first day of school in many districts. The new plans include improved ways to handle in person fine arts, physical education classes, emergency drills, and more.
OSDE has released new policies almost weekly while tackling the idea of coming back to school in person but now they have decided on more concrete suggestions on how to better prioritize the safety of students in various high touch situations.
Many districts have decided to go with virtual learning options for at least the first few weeks of the school year, but some districts in smaller areas are still returning to school in person. Those small, in-person, districts are the ones these new policies will impact first.
The OSDE is recommending all dance, art, singing, band classes, and more sit physically distant all facing the same way instead of facing towards each other. The board also wants to implement precautions that include not sharing any art or music materials unless there is consistently proper time to sanitize materials between each class and student that uses them.
The new plan also mentions all emergency drills, specifically fire and tornado drills, be conducted in small groups with extra time given to properly physical distance or even with visual aids at times instead of in person. There is also a suggestion of tweaking escape routes to make sure small hallways don’t become too crowded when trying to get all students and staff out quickly.
The board is asking that all physical education and dance classes to be held outdoors when possible and saying students should wear a mask as much as possible during the activity. The plan suggests larger gym areas for these activities as well when being outside isn’t an option.
The common denominator in the latest updates to procedure is constant sanitizing, so that if students must be close to one another, the touch points are as clean as possible.