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Closure Information for DPS Community - 3/20/20

Dreams of Our Children

Closure Information for DPS Community

March 20, 2020 by Tom Deighan

Barely a week ago, Governor Stitt stated in a press conference with State Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister that Oklahoma was not likely to close schools. Three days later, the State Board of Education closed all schools. Seemingly overnight, the President, Governor, and many Oklahoma mayors declared states of emergency. Things have changed quickly, but thank God that these men in women all had the wisdom and humility to adapt. They have all shown tremendous courage to make tough decisions during this crisis. I believe they have saved lives.    

Among the most unprecedented decisions has been the wholesale closing of Oklahoma schools. The ramifications are vast and complicated. Many parents are like my mother, who was alone with seven children after my father died. She worked multiple jobs and could not afford daycare. A myriad of other issues exist as well, from ACT tests to graduations to IEP services. We do not yet have solutions to most issues, but the biggest concern has been addressed: protecting our students from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. In turn, the chances of them bringing home to parents and grandparents are greatly reduced. During the closure, we cannot open school buildings or provide any activities for children. We can, however, feed students.

Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, Grab-and-Go meals will be provided for any child 18 or under at 6 locations in Duncan, Monday thru Friday:

From 10:30 to 11:30:  Emerson Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Elementary, and Elm Terrace Apartments

From 11:45 to 12:45: Mark Twain Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, Plato Elementary

Under federal regulations, students must be present to receive a meal, and the foods will be provided as a drive-thru or walk-up. To minimize exposure, no one will be allowed to enter the buildings and we ask that everyone keep 6 feet between each other if lines form. Children do not have to be students of Duncan Public Schools. Any child 18 or under may receive a meal or any student older than 18 who is also enrolled at DPS.

In addition to feeding children, we can also provide accurate information regarding the Coronavirus closure directly from the CDC, the Oklahoma Health Department, or the Oklahoma State Department of Education. A special page has been set-up at www.duncanps.org – simply click on “Coronavirus Closure Information.” It contains links directly to the sources for parents, staff, and community. Furthermore, any pertinent District information will also be on that page.

Most decisions will be made at the state or federal levels. We will, however, participate in all available conferences with state and federal officials to advocate for Duncan students and staff. We are likewise supporting any city or county initiatives. Everyone at the local, state and federal levels has been helpful and supportive through this.   Duncan is blessed with tremendous community partners.

None of us can predict how long this situation will last or make any promises beyond what is in our control, but Duncan Public schools can commit to three non-negotiables. We first commit to do everything within our power to limit exposure for students or staff. Second, we commit to continue to feed children as long as we can. And third, we commit to provide the DPS community with critical information as it becomes available.

If you have any questions or needs, the best way to contact district officials is via email because we will be unable to answer phones (although we will check messages when possible). If you do not know whom to contact, please email questions@duncanps.org; this email will be monitored daily. You may also email me directly at tom.deighan@duncanps.org, and I can usually respond within 24 hours. Principals are also checking emails and messages at their sites.

Please remember that everyone is adapting hour-by-hour through this, but we should rejoice that people are adapting. Our state, local, and national leaders are doing everything possible to protect us all. Pray for our leaders, pray for each other, and please continue to pray for the safety of our children.

By grace, 

Tom Deighan