State of our students: Balancing work, learning, and family

Life is returning to a semblance of normalcy – normalcy with masks, that is: the fall semester is beginning, employees are returning to work, and unemployment rates are falling. But, with this growth comes questions.

Should our children return to in-person schooling, or should we continue remote learning? Should we work in the office, or work from home? If our kids stay home, and we work, how do we balance teaching children with do our jobs? Is balance even possible? Is returning to life pre-COVID safe? Is doing anything “normal” safe?

No matter what your district calls for, or you decide on your own, following are resources for information and ideas to help you kick off the school year.

To school or to school at home?

While traditionally, students spend the majority of their parents’ working hours in a school building, many schools are rethinking their educational model, whether they remain socially distanced in the classroom, adopt a blended, in-class, at-home model, or remain entirely remote for a portion or the entirety of the fall semester.

  • While supporting their families, parents now face the challenge of determining their children’s education options, even to the point of acting as an at-home educator. After federal unemployment hit its peak of 15% in April, July saw a positive turnaround as US employers added 1.8 million jobs. With the unemployment rate dropping to 10.2%, some parents now face juggling a new position with remote learning. (

Ideas and Resources for Parents  

  • Remember that learning can happen anywhere and doesn’t have to be from a textbook.
    • Remote learning may be the perfect time for your children to learn how to cook, do laundry, budget, or do furniture installation – maybe even decorating and furnishing their new remote learning space!
  • To give you more options, some local businesses are offering unique classes and camps during the work week that can be fit to your schedule:
    • RIVERSPORT Outdoor Camp and Study Hall
      • Designed for students attending online, hybrid, or home school. Campers split time between experiencing the outdoors and self-driven study hall. To register:
        • Weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
          • For 2nd Grade through 8th Grade
    • Edmond Fine Arts Institute
      • Homeschool classes for students. Sign up at Classes include:
        • A/B Art Camp – Weekdays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
          • For Kindergarten through 5th Grade
        • Homeschool/Daytime Art with Angie: Art Venture – Wednesdays 11 a.m. to noon; Wednesdays and Thursdays 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
          • Ages 7 and up
        • Homeschool Theatre with Brent – Wednesdays 1:30 to 3 p.m.
          • Ages 7 and up
        • Homeschool/Daytime Art with Angie: Hands On Art Through the Ages – Thursdays 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
          • Ages 12 and up
        • Homeschool/Daytime Art with Angie: Fabulous Fiber Arts – Thursdays 11 a.m. to noon
          • Ages 7 and up
        • Homeschool Musical Theatre with Kelsey – Thursdays 1:30 to 3 p.m.
          • Ages 7 and up
    • Mad Science Central Oklahoma
      • In-person and virtual STEM programs for students. Get more information and sign up at
        • For Kindergarten through 5th Grade
    • Camp Invention Connect
      • At-home learning program with activity kits and options between self-led experiences or online interaction. Get more information and register at
        • Options from August 17 to September 4
          • For Kindergarten through 6th Grade
  • When in doubt, collaborate with other parents or reach out to an educator. Education in a pandemic is a sea everyone is navigating, so you’re not alone!

Oklahoma State Resources

Educators and school officials have also had to transition from normal procedures.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education updated their Framework for Reopening Schools ( on August 5. The document provides a framework that district and school leaders can utilize in their 2020-21 school year planning. This update follows Governor Stitt’s announcement at the end of July that the State of Oklahoma will purchase $10 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) for schools.

Districts are expected by the Department of Education to have a plan to offer traditional learning, distance learning, and blended learning models. The Framework says, “A blended model may better accommodate social distancing by partially reopening school buildings to provide educational services.” It also encourages school administrators to share local resources regarding transportation, mental health support and physical needs with parents.

The Department of Education also approved Oklahoma School Safety Protocols (, encouraging schools’ application of CDC guidelines and any OSDE or OSDH guidance. The document acknowledges the variance between districts and areas of the state, as COVID-19 circumstances are volatile.

The protocols follow levels, of which vary depending on case numbers and include recommendations of educators and students wearing PPE, including masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns. In the green level, for example, group gatherings may occur in areas with proper social distancing and available PPE.

Per the protocols, once cases increase to more than 25 but fewer than 50 cases per 100,000, districts are recommended to transition to distance learning. If those cases rise to 50 or more cases per 100,000, districts are recommended to close buildings and provide distance learning.

For parents faced with distance learning or deciding to school from home, as well as educators preparing for potential distance learning, the Oklahoma State Department of Education has resources for distance learning (

The resource page encourages parents maximize their child’s at-home learning by following these tips:

  • Designate a space for learning that will limit distractions.
  • Create a schedule. Make time for breaks, lunch and snacks, as well as walks and play.
  • Allow children time to interact with friends virtually or on the phone.
  • Remember that learning will continue, even though it is not occurring in the normal setting.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education also suggests following webpage for families and educators transitioning to distance learning: The site helps parents and teachers design a full school day dependent on grade level and offers evening educational activities to be utilized by families. It includes educational topics such as reading and writing, math, science, art, emotional well-being and even virtual field trips.

As we have known for months, these are uncertain times. While the resources provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education do not ease the unknown of education, they may make tackling distance learning, homeschooling, blended learning or traditional learning a little easier. It is an odd year, but it is not a lost one. Education can still happen, at home or in a classroom – and everyone is navigating it together.