Oklahoma Department of Education
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Waiver will allow Oklahoma districts to use Saturdays as instruction time

May 28, 2020
The state board gives districts the flexibility to count instruction time on Saturday as part of the required minimum of 180 school days

The Oklahoma State Board of Education has approved a waiver that will allow schools to count instruction offered on Saturdays toward the state's minimum requirement of 180 days of instruction or the equivalent in hours and minutes. 

The Tulsa World reports that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister believes local school boards and district administrators need as much flexibility as possible in creating school calendars with provisions for possible COVID-19 closures and to provide special accommodations for students who need extra help or who have extraordinary health concerns.

Board member Estela Hernandez, who voted no, says she does not want to see schools adding to already stressful times for students and their families by infringing on their Saturdays and would prefer that schools use technology instead to provide special accommodations.

Member Carlisha Williams Bradley, who supported the waiver, says that school closures this spring had exposed a significant "digital divide" that puts students with no or limited access to technology at a disadvantage.

Bradley also noted that a number of public schools already offer students Saturday school options; the waiver gives districts the flexibility to count  the time invested by students and teachers toward state minimums for instruction time.

Hofmeister told the board that the state education department would closely monitor use of the waiver and raise the matter again if the board's "intent" that it not be used as a first resort is not followed.

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