Oklahoma Board of Education votes to close schools for the rest of the school year

Update Mach 25: The State Board of Education voted to close all public schools for the remainder of the school year and transition to distance learning.

Updates: 4:43 p.m. March 16: The State Board of Education voted to close all Oklahoma public schools starting March 17 until April 6.

Updates 4:09 p.m. March 16: The meeting is underway now. Watch it here:

Original Story: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister called an emergency meeting of the State Board of Education for 4 p.m. Monday to authorize the closure of all Oklahoma schools beginning March 17 and lasting until April 6.

Hofmeister said the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation with state health experts to determine if it will be necessary to extend the closure.“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of Oklahomans,” Hofmeister said.

“This decision is not made lightly, but it is the right thing to do based on current guidance from the CDC,” said Governor Kevin Stitt. “This closure will allow us time to further understand how COVID-19 is affecting Oklahoma and give students and staff a period of time to be protected from further community spread of the virus. We know closing schools has a significant impact on families, and we are committed to doing what we can to lessen that impact as we work to prioritize the health and safety of all Oklahomans.”

The recommended board action today will solely address the school closures. The OSDE is already working to ensure school closure does not negatively impact schools and school employees, including issuing guidance on state assessments, school accountability and student attendance.This weekend, the OSDE received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on two requested waivers allowing meal service to continue during school closures. Meals will be available at no cost to low-income children and are not required to be served in a group setting to avoid possible exposure to COVID-19.

Tulsa Public Schools decided on Monday to go ahead and close all schools through April 3. District offices

FOX23 will be at the meeting and will bring you updates as soon as we get them.