Ponca City School Board votes to start virtual learning

November 19, 2020 | Headlines

PONCA CITY  — The Ponca City Board of Education met for an hour today and voted to begin distance learning across the entire school district.

Based on the recent surge of COVID-19 positive cases in Kay County and the rising rate of in-school positive cases and close contacts, the BOE voted to transition the entire district to full Distance Learning from Monday, Nov. 23 to Friday, Dec. 18. 

Superintendent Shelley Arrott provided District COVID-19 Data including the current weekly COVID-19 numbers, percentages of students and staff currently out on isolation or quarantine, district trends which included percentages of individuals affected after breaks or holidays, the COVID-19 Alert System Data, the rate of spread within the District, and the impact of activities on isolations, quarantines, and spread. Executive Director of Human Resources, Curtis Layton, shared medical data including anecdotal symptom progression data, COVID-19 testing concerns, updated White House Coronavirus Task Force Data, OSDH Positive COVID-19 Cases for age Cohort of 5-17, Oklahoma Hospital Admission Data, and data relating specifically to Alliance Health Ponca City. 

Arrott closed the presentations with points of success during the pandemic and looming concerns with the rate of new cases and spread in the community. 

The BOE Members discussed the data and implications during an open discussion and determined the entire district would pivot to Distance Learning beginning Monday, Nov. 23 to Friday, Dec. 18, which is the remaining 17 school days left in the semester. 

Additionally, the BOE voted that all extra-curricular activities and practices would discontinue during the closure. The BOE did reserve the right to continually review data to modify the decision if deemed necessary. Even though this was a very difficult decision and there are implications with any scenario, the safety of students, staff, and the community is always the district’s top priority. BOE Safety Protocols, approved at the Sept. 14,  BOE Meeting, state the following instructional provisions if the county reaches the State Department of Education’s High-Risk Level: OSDE RED LEVEL (more than 50 cases per 100,000, per capita) Instruction: PCPS will make determinations on in-person instruction.