FAQ Draft



SCHOOL OPERATIONS

The closing of school buildings, school facilities and in-person instruction and extracurricular activities is closure is mandated until April 6, 2020. Remote learning will resume April 6.
Please note this answer has been updated. Yes. The state Education Department is requiring districts with a last day of instruction prior to May 8 to delay its last day of school in exchange for the waivers the state Board of Education approved on March 25. If your district had an end date after May 15, you may want to consider modifying the calendar. The state education department has indicated districts will not need to submit calendar changes to SDE. Changing the last day of instruction will require local board action unless previous passed a resolution delegating that authority to the superintendent.
No. On March 25, the state Board of Education waived all minimum instructional time (days/hours) mandates.
The state board required schools to cease all instructional activities, including extracurricular activities, until April 6. On March 25, the board revised the order so schools could begin planning for remote instruction but asked schools to adhere to CDC guidance and the governor's executive order by ensuring staff meetings are virtual. Schools may continue essential clerical and administrative activities such as business management, nutrition services and maintenance.
No. With the move to remote learning, the state Board of Education waived the requirement for a minimum 6-hour school day.
Immediately. On March 25, the board amended its earlier order that prohibited professional development activities until April 6. School districts need teachers to begin planning (virtually, if at all possible) on the continuous learning plan for the remainder of the school year.
On March 25, the state Board of Education waived funding restrictions on textbook allocations. Textbook money can now be spent on any needs not related to facility maintenance.
Because of the public health emergency and the move to remote learning, the state Board of Education OK’d calculating both average daily attendance and average daily membership from the first day of school through March 12.
RSA funds can be used for technology, professional development and to convene student proficiency reading teams.
No. The state board of Education waived this requirement to shift from a focus on compliance to support. However, it retains the right to modify the waiver if it deems necessary.
The state Board of Education waived minimum time requirements as well cooperative agreements.
Districts must continue to enroll new students. However, please establish a process that respects CDC health and safety guidance. Your district may use an online enrollment system, use an appointment process or some other option. It is recommended that your process be listed on your school district’s website.
Yes. The school district has three business days to transfer records to the other school district.

EMPLOYEE ISSUES – ARCHIVE

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been signed by the President and goes into effect April 1. Please click here to read about changes to the Family Medical Leave Act and additions to paid sick leave.
An employee may qualify for federal emergency leave for up to eighty hours (two weeks) if they fall under one of the categories below: 1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19. 2. The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19. 3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis. 4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2). 5. The employee is caring for their son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of the son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions. 6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor. Federal emergency leave applies to both part-time and full-time employees but is limited to the equivalent of two weeks of leave for part-time employees. An employee only has to work one day for the employer to qualify for the paid leave. Additional information regarding how the FFCRA applies to school employees is available here.
The FFCRA has added another qualifying reason for using job-protected FMLA leave. If an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, they are entitled to use their 12 weeks of job-protected FMLA leave (or the amount they have left for the year). The first 10 days of this leave would be unpaid, however, after the first 10 days the leave would be paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay for the remainder of the leave (either 10 weeks or the amount they have remaining for the year). To be eligible for this leave the employee must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. Additional information regarding how the FFCRA applies to school employees is available here.
Some employees may be particularly susceptible to COVID-19, such as those with underlying health conditions, or may be in close contact with a high-risk relative. These issues should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but districts are encouraged to be flexible with use of sick and other available leave. Also, some of these cases may include issues covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). School districts are encouraged to contact their retained counsel for advice on specific issues that may be covered by the ADA.
If an employee refuses to wear a mask after being required to do so, the employee can be subject to disciplinary action and/or termination of employment in line with Oklahoma law and any necessary due process procedures. The school district has the right to require masks be worn in an effort to protect students, staff, and the community.
If an employee has a chronic health condition, documentation should be provided by the employee’s physician. The district will need to determine whether the condition qualifies for coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act and, if so, whether a reasonable accommodation can be provided that allows the employee to perform their specific job duties for the school district.
Yes, an employee should notify the school district if they test positive. This will allow the school district to work quickly with the county health department in an effort to protect students, staff, and the community.
Yes.* The information should not be shared with others, including other employees and should not be maintained by the school district as a record. *In general, districts would be prevented from taking employee temperatures as it is a medical examination. However, in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, especially during a pandemic or public health crisis, the district may implement procedures to control and restrict access to school property, activities and events.
Yes, requiring students to wear masks to protect an employee with a serious medical condition may be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Coaches, directors and sponsors receive a lump-sum stipend for responsibilities above and beyond their classroom duties. It would be difficult to pro-rate the stipend in the event of cancellations because they are not paid by the hour, by the game or by the practice. Because scheduling will likely be fluid during the school year, we recommend paying these stipends to coaches and sponsors and assigning unrelated duties to them if their seasons or activities are cancelled or shortened, such as supervising students, monitoring online instruction, communicating with parents or addressing other unexpected needs that arise as a result of COVID-19. It is important that they complete extra responsibilities for the extra-duty pay.
Yes. District administration, in consultation with the county health department, should make the determination as to when an employee needs to quarantine. If an employee is sent home to quarantine, any leave made available to the employee may be utilized, including, but not limited to, paid administrative leave.
Yes. Notwithstanding the employee’s use of appropriate leave which may be available to them, an employee cannot refuse to return to work simply due to a generalized fear of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, a public school cannot legally pay an employee who refuses to return to work unless they have paid leave available to them.
The school is not required to purchase face coverings for staff; however, best practice for safety and employee relations would be to provide them.
If a teacher does not have internet access and internet access is required to complete his/her assigned duties, the district would be required to provide the employee with a hotspot or other internet access alternative.
For new hires, including recent graduates who have been unable to complete testing requirements, a district can request a temporary certificate from the state Board of Education.

To rehire an teacher who was been teaching on an emergency certification for two years, the state Board of Education adopted an emergency rule to allow a third year of emergency certification. For next school year, a local board can ask the state Board of Education for permission to hire an emergency certified teacher for a third year. As part of the application for exception:
  • The teacher must have an effective rating on their most recent evaluation.
  • The district must submit portfolio that includes information about the teacher’s progress toward certification.
  • The district must provide evidence the district sought to hire a certified teacher.
No. The governor’s executive order extended occupational licensing for the duration of his order plus 14 days.

STUDENT ISSUES – ARCHIVE

Your district should communicate with your higher education partner about plans for providing instruction to concurrently enrolled students until April 6, and perhaps longer. Some universities and colleges have already announced they will implement online learning within the next few weeks, while others are still waiting to make a decision about coursework. Once you receive information from the college or university serving your students, share it with concurrently enrolled students and their parents.
OCR released a webinar today on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools using online learning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. More information, including links to the webinar and a fact sheet are available by clicking here.
A: While school is closed for all students, there is no requirement to provide an education to any student, including students on individualized education plans.
State-mandated standardized testing will not happen this year. Oklahoma received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education  See the news release here. The state Education Department also waived the U.S. History test requirement, and medical exemptions are being granted for the 8th grade reading test so students applying for a driver's license/permit will not need to provide an 8th grade reading test score.
Districts have authority to determine when a student has met the criteria for graduation. State education officials have wisely encouraged districts to be flexible and not allow the situation to punitively affect students who were otherwise on track to graduate.
The board of education may wish to consider modifying local policy to return to state graduation requirements for this year’s seniors and juniors. This will eliminate some of the extra stress that students may have in meeting curriculum requirements.
No. Student engagement will vary based on your local district’s continuous learning experience. School districts are encouraged to communicate often with students and families to ensure maximum engagement and share expectations.
School districts aren’t required to assign grades for work submitted during the continuous learning experience. Expectations should be communicated to students and families.

For the second semester, the method of assigning final grades should be determined by each school district and then communicated to students and families.
No. State law contains an exemption to the CPR requirement for virtual charter schools. Since school districts are providing remote instruction for students, state education officials believe this exemption can be extended to 2020 seniors who haven't met the requirement. Whether a senior has completed or been exempted from the requirement must be noted on the student's transcript.
When possible, yes. The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed that school officials will be contacted by county health officials as part of their investigation if the child attended school while positive. We encourage school administrators to communicate with their county health officials in advance to ensure they have updated contact information for the appropriate school representative.
The school is not required to purchase face coverings for students, unless a student is unable to provide one for themselves. Best practice, however, would be to have them available for all students.
Yes. There is no legal prohibition that would prevent a school district from taking student temperatures or inquiring about other COVID-19 symptoms.* While the screening can take place on campus, many districts are asking parents to conduct health screenings at home before sending their children to school each day. *In general, districts would be prevented from taking employee temperatures as it is a medical examination. However, in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, especially during a pandemic or public health crisis, the district may implement procedures to control and restrict access to school property, activities and events.
The school district should continue to provide educational services to students via distance learning or a virtual learning program. If the student is on an IEP, the student’s IEP team must determine the new placement and decide which services are necessary to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
If the virtual learning program is mandatory, the school may have to provide equipment and internet access for those students who do not have access. If the program is voluntary, the district probably will not be required to provide equipment and internet access.
Districts may allow virtual students to participate in extracurricular activities, as long as they attend at least one class period on campus each day. This period can be the class for the co-curricular or extracurricular activity (such as athletics, band, ROTC or choir), if it is part of the school day. While it is not required, allowing students to participate in extracurricular activities is an excellent way for school districts to set their virtual program apart from other programs that do not offer students these opportunities.


GOVERNANCE

The board most likely has already delegated day-to-day decisions to the superintendent via the powers and duties of superintendents (OSSBA policy BJ).  The only decisions that cannot be delegated to the superintendent are those that are specifically required via law to be done by the board of education. You board can use this resolution to reinforce granting the superintendent emergency powers.
Yes. There are some responsibilities the board simply can't delegate. These include (but are not limited to) hiring employees, hiring contractors to perform services for the school district, encumbering funds not already authorized for expenditure and the approval of open transfers.
The administration may modify policy, subject to formal approval of the board at a future meeting.  These changes are often referred to as retroactive policy changes.   
A state law allowing more flexibility for board members to participate in a meeting via teleconference or videoconference expired Nov. 15. Boards must now meet in person. (OSSBA has an online, paperless meeting service that can help school districts and other public bodies streamline meetings, reduce paper and reduce person-to-person contact. Click here to learn more about Assemble Meetings.).
Yes. The Oklahoma Open Meetings Act governs the physical presence of board members but not other meeting participants. If your board has a quorum at the physical meeting place as required by law, the superintendent, minutes clerk and other district employees may participate in the meeting remotely.

MISCELLANEOUS

If a positive case is confirmed in your district, please report it immediately to county health officials and follow their medical advice. Remember, communication and up-to-date information is an important tool for helping others in your school community to protect themselves. Due to student and employee privacy issues, communicating about a positive case can be a difficult situation to navigate. Please call OSSBA for guidance if this situation occurs to discuss the specific circumstances. We are available to assist you. We also have a draft communication template here. We also have a draft communication to share about an employee or student exposure to COVID-19.
Timely and effective communication with parents, students, employees and community members is critically important, especially during times of uncertainty. Let all stakeholders know your schools will be not be offering instructional or extracurricular services until April 6, and share with them your plans to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, let parents know the services that will available to them during the school closure, such as child nutrition options or opportunities to pick up school medication. Consider creating a COVID-19 resources page on your website where they can get the latest information from your district, along with sending announcements via text, phone call, social media and/or email. Also, please check out resources on the communications tips page for template letters.