Decision To Move Muskogee Schools To Distance Learning Aided By Data, Community Input

Wednesday, December 9th 2020, 6:16 pm


Muskogee Public Schools said they will stay in distance learning for the rest of the semester.

Students were originally expecting to return to the classroom next week before Christmas break, but the superintendent said that move would be unnecessary as they try to keep everyone safe.

The superintendent said they look at a lot of data to make decisions like this, but they also take input from teachers, parents and the student advisory council.

As the state moves toward what medical experts are warning could be a dark winter during the pandemic, many school leaders are taking steps they believe will keep students and staff safe.

Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said returning to in-person classes for one week right before Christmas break would be unnecessary.

"We really should make sure that we're practicing safe distancing, washing hands, and wearing a mask. I think that's really important, but also keeping people safe," Mendenhall said.

Muskogee Public Schools said in the last three months of school, 103 students and 45 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

He said that data, along with operational logistics, plays a key role in decisions to stay in distance learning.

"You know, it doesn't come in nice neat packages, it's two or three teachers in a building, and a custodian and maybe a bus driver. When you do that, it's hard to operate day to day," Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall said they've surveyed parents and teachers throughout the semester. They've also taken feedback from their student advisory council, made up of 25 high schoolers, which includes Annebelle Czaruk.

"His team is doing a great job, he's doing a great job, but we also get to say 'hey, we'd love to see this in the future, we see this as a positive already, but we love to see us build off of it," Czaruk said.

Czaruk said they're able to serve as a bridge between the students and the administration. And, she said the council's input has already led to changes.

"For them to hear the students' perspective on that, and the impact of that, is very powerful," Czaruk said.

Muskogee Public School students will return to in-person classes on January 4.