On July 23, the Oklahoma State Board of Education took a critical vote on a back-to-school plan proposed by State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
The State Board passed the Oklahoma School Safety Protocols — but not before cutting that plan off at the knees.
Hofmeister’s plan addressed numerous safety measures with mandates ebbing and flowing according to the spread of COVID-19 within individual counties. Protocols included when districts should require masks, pause extracurriculars, close schools, or take other measures to keep students and staff safe.
The board spent a great deal of time discussing local control, even though the board exists to exercise state-level control.
The board eventually decided to change all of the requirements to mere recommendations. The vote to recommend (instead of require) safety protocols was 4-3.
The state superintendent called the vote “very disappointing.” We agree.
OEA President Alicia Priest responds to State Board of Education vote
“We appreciate State Superintendent Joy Hofmesiter proposing a plan to make school safer for students and staff. Sadly, four state board members couldn’t find the courage to protect our communities. This is not a board standing up for local control. It is a governor-appointed board hiding behind those words to escape their responsibilities to the children of Oklahoma. If our leaders do not take their obligations to protect them seriously, our kids are the ones who will suffer — along with our colleagues, our families, and our fellow Oklahomans. Our districts need strong leadership, but they didn’t find it at the State Board meeting today.”