September 10, 2021 Message from McDaniel | Upcoming Events, Reminders & COVID-19 Updates
As we move into September and celebrate our first month of the school year together, I wanted to bring you a few important updates and reminders.
As you may have seen, last night, President Biden announced his “Plan Out of the Pandemic”. His plan does include some pieces that would seem to impact OKCPS, but district leaders are still working to evaluate exactly what it would mean for OKCPS and for our state. When and if decisions are made that change our COVID-19 response, I will update our staff and families accordingly.
Upcoming Events & Celebrations
September 15th kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month and we are all looking forward to the Fiestas de las Américas celebration in Historic Capitol Hill on Saturday, October 2nd. OKCPS is excited to have a number of our students performing and participating in the parade. Families are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the day’s events, and you can learn more about Fiestas here: http://historiccapitolhill.com/fiestas-2021.
As a reminder, OKCPS has built in seven (7) asynchronous remote learning days as part of our 2021-22 School Calendar. On these days, our teachers will load assignments into Canvas and all students will log-in to learn on their own at home. Our first Asynchronous Learning Day will be Monday, September 20. Please note that curb-side meals will be served at all school sites and available to all students at no cost on asynchronous remote learning days. All OKCPS students have been issued a mobile learning device for the upcoming year, and the district can even help with access to the internet if needed so don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s school if you need assistance with technology. Click here for a full list of these dates.
Our families with students in grades 5th - 12th will have an opportunity to attend an Open House event next week, as our high schools open their doors from 5:30-7:00pm on September 13th and our Middle Schools open from 5:30-7:00pm on September 14th. As a reminder, any person coming to a district facility is required to wear a face covering. OKCPS will be happy to provide a mask to anyone who needs one.
Parent Teacher Conferences are just around the corner on Friday, October 1st. Families should watch for details from your child’s teacher(s) or school with details on how to participate.
Don’t forget that students do not have school October 11th - 15th for Fall Break! Schools will be closed, but district offices will be open.
Also, there will be no school on Monday, October 18th while our staff members participate in Professional Development.
Focused on In-Person Learning
As our COVID-19 numbers continue to fluctuate, I know there has been some anxiety about if or when OKCPS might return to virtual learning from home. I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that I do not have plans to shift our entire district into a virtual learning environment unless or until it becomes absolutely necessary. We know our students learn best when they are together in the classroom, and OKCPS will continue to do everything in our power to make this possible. So instead of districtwide transition, our teams will rely on site-level contact tracing to help us identify small groups of students -- whether that be a classroom, a team, a grade level or even a single school site -- who may need to shift over to virtual learning. This will be done on a case-by-case basis and only as a last resort.
That said, all students and staff need to be prepared for virtual learning. This means everyone must take your device, your charging cord and your other learning materials home with you each day. Teachers should also ensure they have prepared lessons for remote learning that could be activated immediately via Canvas, if necessary.
OKCPS continues to provide COVID-19 testing for our students and staff who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have had a known exposure to a confirmed positive person. Remember, if you are being tested due to an exposure, those who are vaccinated should wait 3 to 5 days after the exposure before being tested and those who are unvaccinated should wait until day 5 or later to be tested. It is important that anyone who is symptomatic NOT come to school or to work while you wait to be tested OR while you wait for your test results. Visit the district’s COVID-19 website here for a list of OKCPS testing sites, including our Student Services Center at Westwood which was recently added.
OKCPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics
OKCPS is also continuing to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics at all of our middle and high schools during the school day, which will allow our students who are interested in receiving the vaccine to be fully vaccinated by Fall Break. This vaccine opportunity is made possible through a partnership with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD). Students under the age of 18 must obtain consent from a parent or guardian. Forms may be downloaded and printed at home, or families may obtain a printed copy from your child’s school if you don’t have access to a printer. These vaccine clinics are only open to OKCPS students and staff.
Resources & Support
Although we are pleased to be able to have our students back on campus to learn in-person, we know this continues to be a challenging time for many. I hope you will consider reaching out if you need assistance.
OKCPS remains committed to supporting you in every way possible. Below are some resources for families and staff:
- Last year, OKCPS launched Family Connect, a resource program for OKCPS families offering support with mental health, physical health, GED prep/academic classes, employment resources, senior citizen support and transportation.for our families. Families can request support by calling (405) 587-FEEL to speak to a case manager Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm. You can also visit www.okcps.org/FamilyConnect to learn more about this program.
- Families can call 58-STUDY (587-8839) for academic support and 587-HELP (4357) for technical support.
- 2-1-1 HeartLine is open 24/7 for help with counseling, rental assistance, food pantries, affordable housing, health resources, child care, after-school programs, caregiver support, financial programs, literacy, and job programs. As always, please call 911 for emergencies.
- If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 2-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) for 24/7 support.
Please note that to help alleviate some of the information overload that I know a lot of us are experiencing, I’ve decided to scale back and only send these Message from McDaniel updates to you on an as-needed basis. This means you may not hear from me for several weeks...or you may hear from me more than once in a single week. It will just depend on what’s happening inside the district and within the community. I do, however, encourage you to keep your eyes open for these important updates.
In the meantime, rest assured that OKCPS is continuing to invest in a variety of safeguards in order to create layers of protection. This includes our focus on cleaning, ionization, self-screening, access to PPE, contact tracing, testing, vaccines and social distancing to the greatest extent possible. I’m proud of all we’re doing to provide a safe environment for our students and staff to learn and work together on our campuses, and I encourage each of you to do your part by ensuring you wear a mask, get vaccinated and quarantine appropriately.
Thank you for your continued trust and support!
Dr. Sean McDaniel, Superintendent