Monday, March 1
Dear EPS Staff and Parents,
Moments ago, Board of Education members voted for Edmond students to return to four days a week in-person instruction later this month.
The board accepted and approved the recommendations of the Return to Class and Covid Advisory Committees for elementary students to return to class on Thursday, March 11, and secondary students to return on Monday, March 22.
The time between the announcement of a return date and the actual return will be used to bring back school furniture that has been in storage and needs to be set up. Additionally, our child nutrition department needs a 10- day lead-time to order adequate food supplies.
Elementary Return Date is Thursday, March 11
Returning to more full-time in-person instruction on March 11 and March 12 gives our young scholars time to learn adjusted procedures and a new world with double the number of students. This additional time also allows the district to try and hire more elementary teachers and staff as needed for some schools where the classes have higher than optimal numbers. Then, following Spring Break, it would be a natural flow to bring our elementary students back to a four-day week.
Secondary Return Date is Monday, March 22
Returning to more full-time in-person instruction after Spring Break coincides with the beginning of the 4th nine weeks of instruction in our secondary schools and is thus a natural start date for middle and high school students.
Why Change the A/B Schedule Now?
Why would the district consider changing the A/B schedule now? Within the last week or so, three significant concerns have been addressed that support us transitioning back to in-person learning for our students. The CDC released updated guidelines and protocols on how and when to safely return to in-person learning for our students, we began vaccinating thousands of staff members, and local Covid-19 transmission rates have shown a steady decline. The rate last Friday in Oklahoma County was 16.6 cases per 100,000; this is a rate of cases not seen since mid-September.
Why Not Return Five Days?
Although Covid transmission rates have dropped considerably in our community, with double the number of students back in the classroom, we fully anticipate that our quarantine numbers will increase. Teachers will need to have Wednesdays to prepare online lessons for quarantined students. There are also many logistical and behind-the-scenes reasons that revolve around before and aftercare, state testing, and remediation that make 4 days a week ideal compared to 5 days a week.
FAQ Document Coming
I know that you likely have additional questions about the action taken tonight. Please be looking for an email tomorrow, which will detail answers to many of your questions. We will also post the information contained in the email on our website.
While tonight’s vote by the board will be met with excitement by parents and staff members who are eager to return to a more normal school week, we also understand that others will not share in that excitement and worry about the safety of moving to more full-time, in-person instruction. Please be assured that following this transition, Covid-19 safety protocols and mitigation efforts will continue to be required and enforced to create the safest possible environment in our schools.