JENK, Okla. — After a school year in which many Green Country districts were forced to switch back and forth between in-person learning and distance learning, it is the goal of all to spend the entire school year in the classroom.
The highly transmissible Delta variant is causing school leaders to take extra precautions bringing students back.
"We have decided in consultation with our board to strongly encourage the use of masks," Jenks Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stacey Butterfield said.
A subtle, but vital change according to Butterfield, in Jenks Public Schools' "2021-2022 Return to Learn Plan." The district cannot mandate mask-wearing due to a new state law that prohibits mask orders and vaccine requirements in schools.
“We definitely believe it helped us here in controlling our numbers (last year)," Butterfield said.
“There are ways to go about this that make it safer for everyone," David Crow, parent of a JPS 5th grader and kindergarten student, said.
Displaying and promoting masks is a change for the better in Crow's mind, but he worries the district is not going far enough to protect his kids and others.
“We’re extremely concerned that these districts, especially Jenks, are going to go right back to having positive cases in the classroom," he said.
Any student or teacher who tests positive for COVID is required to quarantine away from the school for at least 10 days, but those considered in close contact are asked to monitor the symptoms and make their own choice.
“It’s on you to decide for your child if they’re going to stay home or if they’re going to just see if they have a fever," Crow said.
Crow's kids are not old enough to be eligible for the vaccine and neither are their classmates. As COVID cases rise, so does the risk to send his kids back to the classroom.
Crow and other JPS parents have to make the decision to sign their kids up for virtual learning by Friday. If they do so, their students are required to learn virtually for the entire school year. District officials said at Monday night's meeting, students may have the ability to switch on "an as-needed basis," but it is not clear what those situations are.
Visit the JPS website to view the entire "Return to Learn Plan."
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