The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Wednesday to close public school buildings for the rest of the 2019-20 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each school district will need to adopt a "distance learning" plan, which will allow students to continue instruction without reporting to campus while schools are closed. Districts will need to have their plans in place by April 6 and provide “distance learning” to students for the rest of the school year.

Those plans will vary widely according to each district’s capacity and their students’ needs, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said in a news release issued Monday, two days ahead of the board meeting. She said districts will start offering distance learning once they have provided assurances of their plans to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, as well as special services for English learners and special education students.

Hofmeister also said public school buildings must remain closed to everyone except for staffers who are providing child nutrition services and administrative services for distance learning and employee payroll, The Tulsa World reported on its website.

Eric Swanson can be contacted by email at

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