OWASSO, Okla. — Owasso Public Schools is putting the final touches on back-to-school preparations and that means focusing on student safety and meeting staffing needs.
The big day is Thursday, Aug. 11.
As the days of summer begin to wind down, Superintendent of Owasso Public Schools, Dr. Margaret Coates, said the work to prepare for the school year is ramping up.
A growing district, deemed one of the largest in the state, is readying its classrooms to welcome nearly 10,000 students back to campus after nearly two years of pandemic disruptions.
“We can expect to be in person, which is exciting,” Coates said.
With several health safety precautions in place, the district said it will continue to implement practices adopted during the pandemic.
“The biggest thing is that I think our teachers and students all feel comfortable now with the tools that we learned to use during COVID,” she said.
It’s not the only thing on the district’s checklist.
The scars of a deadly tragedy at a Texas elementary school still linger for many, making school safety a priority across not only the nation but in Owasso as well.
“Right now, we have three school resource officers that are assigned to all of our facilities, and they rotate through our school sites every day,” Coates said.
The district is also paired with the Owasso Police Department, which is ready to respond in any given moment.
“All of our schools have a secure entryway,” Coates said.” We have access control at every single one of our school sites.”
OPS is also adopting the Rave Panic Button application, which is part of an executive order issued by Gov. Kevin Stitt for school safety.
The app is to be implemented by Sept. 1 and ensures immediate notification to law enforcement with a timely response.
“We also this summer have partnered with local agencies to provide our school site… we’ve opened our school sites so they can do active shooter training,” Coates said.
These steps are all outlined in the executive order, as well as risk assessments when it comes to school safety, which OPS has already done.
The risk assessment is in coordination with the Oklahoma School Security Institute and the Department of Public Safety. It makes available a risk and vulnerability assessments to schools, which will include recommendations to increase security. Annual assessment reviews are also made available and provided at no cost to the schools.
The district’s back-to-school prep doesn’t stop there, it’s also proactively hiring through job fairs and already filling nearly every teacher position.
The district credits competitive pay, benefits, and a positive work environment.
“We are going to have about 100 new teachers this school year,” Coates said.
Support staff positions are filled as well.
“We are completely staffed, in which we have not been with our child nutrition in the last two years,” she said. “We are going to start the school year completely staffed.”
She adds there’s been lots of transition, but the change has brought new positive energy and professional growth to kick off the school year.
The district will continue to hire throughout the year as jobs turn over and is still looking for three school counselors.
You can apply on the school’s website by clicking here.
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