Jenks Public Schools updates the decision to head back to in-person learning


JENKS, Okla. — Jenks Public Schools released details on their decision to head back to in-person learning earlier than planned on Thursday.

In a statement released to parents (and posted to Facebook), Jenks Public Schools said in part: “Although the yellow level was always a part of the conversation, the process also included reviewing recommendations, guidance, and data, in addition to lessons learned from other public and private schools as they have transitioned to in-person learning. This part of the plan should have been stressed more often and stated more clearly. For that, we sincerely apologize.”

The statement went on to say that the color-coded guidance from the state is expected to expire at the end of September and there are no current plans to extend that.

The district is still working on their plans and rubics for closing/cleaning a classroom or school but do say contact-tracing will occur and they ask those individuals to quarantine for 14 days from the date of close contact to the individual that tests positive.

Jenks Public Schools plans to have students back on campus starting Sept. 10, the school district said in an email to parents Tuesday.

“We are continuously evaluation data, including strategies and outcomes from districts that have opened classrooms for students,” the letter said. “It was never the intent to utilize distance learning indefinitely. With positive cases lower in Tulsa County, the District is committed to implementing the health and safety protocols to mitigate risk factors and working hard to manage positive cases as they arise.”

The school district said they understand distance learning has been a challenge and will continue to work with students who decide to stick with distance learning.

“If cases rise within the District and another shutdown is necessary, JPS will once again transition from at-school learning to distance learning,” the letter said.

The president of the Jenks Classroom Teachers Association, Michael Horn, said he respects the superintendent but does not agree with the decision.

Horn said teachers across the district agree that face-to-face learning is best but they think it’s too early to transition right now.

He says he’s heard from at least eight teachers -- after meeting about 100 from across the district Tuesday night via Zoom to talk about the changes -- who are considering resigning.

Horn says he believes the superintendent is feeling pressure from a group of parents, which caused the district to change course.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with pressure from parents or disappointment because like we said off the top, now that we’ve made this decision going the other way another percentage of people are disappointed,” said Rob Loeber with Jenks Public Schools.

“We know that we’re not going to please people no matter what we do. We have to make the best decision for our district moving forward and also use the data that we have and look at other districts who’ve been able to successfully return in person and if they are able to do so we believe that we are able to do so as well.”

Masks will be required for all employees and all students in grades 3-12.

Students in PreK-2nd grade will be required to wear masks in hallways and common areas. Parents of PreK-2nd grade students may choose for their students to wear a mask at other times.

All students will have to wear masks while on school buses.

If parents or students want to switch and opt into the virtual academy “Trojan Connect, they can call the Teaching and Learning Department and be placed on a waitlist. Depending on availability is how fast the requests will be processed. The number for parents to call is 918-299-4415 ext. 2260.

As of Wednesday, Jenks had 42 active cases, according got the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

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